Eric Granof is the Vice President of Corporate Communications for AIA Surety.
Bail Reform Marketing 101: The Myth of 62
BEHIND THE PAPER WITH ERIC GRANOF
If you have ever taken a marketing and communications class in school, one of the first lessons you learn is that perception is stronger than reality. If you can get consumers to perceive that your product or brand is more reliable, or more effective, or safer than the competition, the reality of that truth becomes less important. Now don’t get me wrong, facts always matter in marketing, but if you can connect with people in an emotional way beyond the facts, then you can convince them of almost anything.
Now one paragraph into this blog, you are probably asking yourself, “Eric, this is all fine and good, but what the heck does it have to do with Bail Reform?” My response to you is, “Everything!”
The proponents of public sector pretrial release and the social justice advocates behind the bail reform movement have been running one of the best marketing campaigns I have ever seen. While they are not selling a product or service, they are successfully selling an ideology. While their customer is not the average Joe on the street, their customer is likeminded politicians and judges who share the same belief system. Even if we all completely disagree with what they are doing, you have to give them credit for running a convincing campaign. As I mentioned previously, the strength of any marketing program isn’t the strength of the reality behind it, but rather the perception you are able to create. These so called social justice warriors have not been selling reality, but rather they have been selling a perception of reality that is based solely on their ideology with very little facts.
That being said, perception has its lifespan just like everything else. You can create the perception and enjoy the benefits of that positioning for a period of time, but ultimately, if the facts and reality don’t catch up to the perception and support it, you will lose credibility all together. For example, Volvo’s will only be perceived as the safest cars on the road, as long as people do not die driving them. Sony products will only be seen as the most reliable as long as their products keep working. Public sector pretrial release programs and electronic algorithms can only be sold as effective tools as long as they perform at that level. See where I am going with this?
The public sector pretrial community has created a perception that they are solving a dire problem in the criminal justice system. That problem is based on one key marketing talking point (notice how I didn’t use the word fact?). That talking point is that 62% of people sitting in jail at this very moment are there for the sole reason that they cannot afford to pay for a bail bond. This one concept is the pillar behind their entire movement. They have created a narrative and sold it to influencers inside the criminal justice system as truth. They use fancy marketing brochures and websites. They created viral online videos and PowerPoint presentations that all perpetuate this “myth of 62%.” They use language that is more visual and disturbing to people like “people languishing away in “cages” as opposed to jail cells because while one draws up images of bad guys being locked up deservedly in jail, the other one draws up images of people being undeservedly locked up and treated like animals…which do you think is more effective? And how do we know at the end of the day that their marketing is working? Just listen to those that they have sold it to and you will hear them regurgitate the same language and the same talking points, including the most important one of all, the mythical 62% number.
Just for the record, the reality is that 62% of people in jail are NOT there because they can’t afford a bail bond. There are several legitimate studies that refute this number and actually prove that the number of people who are in jail solely for the reason they can’t afford bail is as low as 1-2% of the population. In fact, most jail populations only have a bailable population of around 10%. The remaining 90% of defendants aren’t even eligible for bail. But this fact doesn’t align with the bail reform marketing campaign. This fact doesn’t support their powerful emotional claim of 62%. My guess is that the truth didn’t test as well in the focus group, so they decided to ignore it.
As I discussed previously, the one way to combat perception or shall I say misperception in this case is to let it run its course and ultimately be overtaken by the facts. This is what is happening in New Jersey. The voters in New Jersey were sold a marketing campaign entitled “Bail Reform.” The narrative simply put was that “Innocent people were languishing away in cages because they were poor while guilty and dangerous people were being let out because they had money. Who in the world wouldn’t vote for something to solve this problem? And Bail Reform was passed. Now comes the reality. As of January 1st, the so-called magical bail algorithm was unveiled and the computers took over. Now with a simple questionnaire, public sector pretrial advocates can tell you all about a defendant, including whether or not they are going to show up for court, whether or not they will commit another crime if released from custody and they might even tell you what the defendants like for breakfast…that is, of course, if the algorithm has been validated appropriately. Based on this magical algorithm, judges are now told what to think and what to do. The result, child molesters are being identified as “low risk” and released for FREE on a promise to appear in court. Drug dealers are being identified as “low risk” and released for FREE on a promise to appear in court. Defendants who have assaulted police officers are released for FREE on a promise to appear in court. Instead of punishing people who commit crimes, New Jersey is now rewarding them by releasing them with zero accountability. Have you ever heard the saying, if you reward bad behavior, you can only expect one thing…more bad behavior. I think New Jersey communities won’t just be hearing that statement but experiencing it for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, the public soon sees the reality of this misguided and dangerous marketing campaign they bought in before crime reaches new astronomical records and the rule of law goes away.
Another way to combat the myth of bail reform and the factless marketing campaign is to not just sit around and wait for the truth to catch up, but rather to speed the process along and perpetuate the truth. Once again, New Jersey is the best example to share on this. Several concerned parties, from law enforcement to bail agents to community members, have all taken to social media to spread the stories of the bail reform marketing campaign’s deceitful lies and empty promises. Story after story of dangerous criminals being released into the public is being shared with a broad spectrum of people across the state and the country. Each story shared puts a crack in the foundation of the bail reform lie. Each story shared puts a glimmer of truth into the narrative and opens people’s eyes to the mistake that was made. Hats off to New Jersey for having the courage to step up and pull back the curtain and unveil the myths and lies that the bail reform movement is built on. I invite everyone to visit this group online and share their stories at ... aiasurety.com/bail-bond-blog/bail-reform-marketing-101-myth-62/
From New Jersey to Texas to California, the Bail Reform Marketing Campaign is in full swing. But reality and facts are following close behind and when they start revealing themselves in the form of crime increases, failures to appear for court, and more people in jail than there were previously, then maybe then people will wake up and realize the mistakes of their actions. Until that time, I encourage every concerned citizen, every law enforcement supporter, every bail agent and every victim advocate to share the truth about the failures of bail reform. Combat the myths with the truth. Demand that your lawmakers first understand the problems facing the criminal justice system, before buying the so-called FREE shiny new product being sold to them that will save them money and solve all their problems.
Does our criminal justice system need reform? Absolutely! Do we need to find ways to reduce crime? Absolutely! Do we need to find ways to treat people more fairly? Absolutely! Do we need to find a way to make sure the rights of victims are protected? Absolutely! Is getting rid of the bail industry the solution to achieve those things? Absolutely Not!
It is time to start having a grown-up discussion that involves facts and truths and less emotion and ideology. It is time to stop marketing lies and empty promises and focus on solving problems. Then, and only then, can you truly improve and reform the criminal justice system.
Eric Granoff is the Vice President of Corporate Communications for AIA Surety.
There are several scams that have been going around the past few years that target bail bond clients. The ones I have heard of are listed here:
Someone calls you and tells you a family member is in jail in some other state and needs you to wire money to the bondsman to get them out. As bondsman we do call family members sometimes because the client is only able to make a few calls and most are collect but any reputable bondsman will encourage you to check call the jail or to check them out and will not pressure you to pay anything without verification.
Someone calls a bail bond client who was recently released from jail and claims they are from the insurance company and demands that you wire money to them in another state to pay for the bond or you will be arrested immediately. Always call your actual local bondsman and verify I can’t think of any reason you would get a call from the insurance company asking for payment.
We actually had a client tell people she worked for us and when they had a person get arrested they called her and she met them and pretended to do paperwork and took $500 cash from them. We found out who she was (used her real name and they knew her) and put her back in jail.
We had a person call a few weeks ago asking when her boyfriend was getting released because she met someone in front of our office and did paperwork and gave them $500 for a bond. It wasn’t a bondsman. I asked her if she wondered why they didn’t come inside. She thought it was weird but trusted the friend who recommended her.
A few years ago there was a woman who didn’t speak English who gave a person $1000 to bond her husband from jail because the woman claimed she worked for a bondsman and could get the bond done. This woman was in the country illegally and was afraid to report it.
A person claims to be a deputy or police officer and tells you that you missed jury duty or have speeding tickets or whatever excuse they can come up with and states that you have a warrant and unless you give him a credit card number he will come and arrest you.
You should always call the Police and report anyone trying to scam you. It may save someone else from getting ripped off.
You may think that all bonding companies are the same. We all do the same job and basically charge the same amount of money. That is far from true. Bail Bonds is an extremely competitive business and there are many options. As with any profession we have a few bondsman who don’t operate ethically and many who go above and beyond to help their clients.
Some things to consider when choosing a bondsman are:
Is the company well known and do they have a good reputation in the community?
A good reputation is important in any business and every bondsman will have people who are unhappy with them. Bondsman are especially prone to this because when clients fail to appear and refuse to take care of it we have to put them back in jail because our job is to get our clients in court.
Does the business show up on online?
If the company doesn’t show up online at all that is a sign they haven’t been around long or won’t be around much longer.
How long have they been in business?
It’s a good sign if they have been around at least a few years. It takes a few years to really learn the business.
Do they have good online reviews?
Online reviews can give you an idea of how the company treats it’s clients. There are some people who can never be happy but the majority should be
Do they have a physical office address?
Do they have an office or do they only have a cell phone? If you have a problem and need to find your bondsman do you know where to go. There are people out there who pretend to be bondsman just to get your money.
Are they helpful and friendly on the phone?
Do they explain the process to you or are they condescending and speak down to you? Do you feel they understand the process? Are they familiar with the county where you need a bondsman?
Everyone knows that I am against 780. One of the scariest things about it is that heroin will be a misdemeanor every time. Heroin is a very deadly drug. I can't count the number of lives I have seen ruined by that drug. It's hard to kick the habit and some of my clients end up on Methadone for the rest of their lives. I have had clients who died from using heroin. They are usually young people with small kids or teenagers who haven't lived yet. People don't get sent to prison on the first or second sometimes even the third felony. Yes we need more treatment options but that is more of a mental health issue. I have a teenage son and I don't want him to grow up in a state that thinks heroin should be a misdemeanor. Just because the commercials are repeatedly telling you it's a "smart justice reform" it's not. I read that if this passes we will have the most liberal drug laws in the U.S. Do your research please!
We encounter people practically every day who don’t have a clue about how bail bonds work. I will try to explain it as simply as I can. If you or your family or friend are arrested and want out of jail, then there are a few options to consider. When a person is arrested, most counties have a bond amount set specific to your charges. Let’s say your friend’s bond is $5000. You could put up the $5000 cash yourself or hire a bondsman.
We charge 10% of that amount or $500. Most bondsman do, but we do have a minimum charge of $150. Once we are in touch with a family member or friend who qualifies as a cosigner we meet and do the paperwork and collect the money. We then take a bond for $5000 to the Detention Center and the defendant is released.
When we post a bond for $5000 we are guaranteeing the Defendant will appear for ALL of his court dates. If the Defendant misses court, we have to find them or pay the $5000. The cosigner is responsible for the $5000 or our expenses getting the Defendant back. That gives the cosigner a very good incentive to help us. The $500 is our fee for posting the bond or letting you use our $5000. It’s like interest on a loan. When the case is finished and the Defendant has appeared as directed our $5000 is released.
My name is Connie Allbritton and I own Big Red Bail Bonds Inc. I have been a bondsman for over 20 years. I worked in Grady County for 11 years and I have been in Cleveland County since 2005. Our company is mostly family. My nieces, one daughter in law and a cousin are bondsman in Cleveland County. My two oldest sons are in McClain County. We have agents in other counties but our two main offices are in McClain and Cleveland.
I enjoy my job and that is a rare thing in this world. I feel like I help people who are having a very bad day and that makes me feel good plus it is really never dull and I am the boss. HAHA! We all work very hard to make sure our company treats people well and is trust worthy. We answer the phone 24/7 and it is a rare occasion that we can’t be in our office within 20 minutes to post a bond for someone. It is important to me that the clients, detention center employees, court clerks and Judges all know that we can be trusted. Just last week a new attorney came to the office to learn about how bail bonds work. He had only been an attorney for about 3 weeks and he said 2 or 3 people he respected told him to come talk to us. We must be doing something right.
We give away a white t-shirt when we bond someone and their bond is paid off. We sell all other shirts for $10
810 W. Robinson St.
Norman, OK 73069
111 N. Second Ave
Purcell, OK 73080