Bail Bond Reform Dies in Washington State Dispute


An effort to tighten up Washington state’s largely unregulated bail-bond industry died in the waning days of the legislative session over of an ideological dispute between law enforcement and advocates for the poor, reports the Seattle Times. The legislation, addressing one of the largest public-policy issues to arise from the 2009 slayings of four Lakewood police officers, would have for the first time set mandatory minimums for what defendants must pay to post bail bonds.

As a result of failed negotiations, bail amounts across the state are likely to rise as judges and prosecutors are left to guess how much defendants are paying to be released from jail before trial. After the murders of the four officers in a coffee shop, The Seattle Times found that shooter Maurice Clemmons had posted just 4 percent of his $190,000 bail to win release six days before the attack. That revelation surprised prosecutors and judges, who had assumed a defendant must pay a 10 percent premium to a bail-bonding agency for the agency to post a bond.

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