Bring Scofflaws to Justice!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
December 24, 2007

First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

While the holidays may provide a brief respite from the usual schedule, it also provides me with the opportunity to take a fresh or closer look at things the County does and functions which it can improve. Perhaps the result of my looking will be of far greater monetary value than any one person's Christmas gift. It is my fondest hope however, that you receive both!

Last week, among the myriad tasks constantly attending my work, I renewed my interest in knowing what the status of the collection of our personal recognizance (PR) bond forfeitures. After calling the best managers together to address this issue, it became obvious that we can tighten up this area a little more. And with some frequency, when the County tightens up one of its functions, it can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings to the taxpayer.

The obvious thing about the offenders who qualify for PR bonds is that this is a free bond from the County. The recipients are qualified most often by virtue of the fact that they are first-time offenders on perhaps a misdemeanor, have a job and a decent likelihood of appearing in Court on their appointed date. The PR bond helps the County relieve itself of unnecessarily housing low level offenders at taxpayers' expense, an obvious segment that are believed to be worthy. Priority however, is given to the offender having an opportunity to secure a private bail bond.

It is galling to me that after qualifying for a free PR bond, some of these defendants fail to show up. It then becomes incumbent upon the County to pursue them to compel their appearance. The least we can do is let these defendants know that the "long arm of the law" will go after them if they do not show up for their court date.

Bexar County must find a way to tighten up its collections efforts if we are to convey an impression of seriousness about these lesser offenders showing up for their court appearances.

The author of "In Search of Excellence", Tom Peters said that, "The larger the organization, the dumber it gets." Well, Bexar County may not be as large as the State or Federal Governments, but it is large. That does not permit it to be less than vigilant about how it does business. It must integrate accountability and responsibility into every facet of its service, especially this one. To do less is not acceptable.

I look forward to giving you an update on this initiative and other such efforts that focus on safety and savings for the residents of our County!

In the meanwhile, have a safe and happy holiday season!

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