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Baumeister: Lederman and Bail Bondsmen Trap Poor and Lawmakers to Make Money

The SDDP is closing its doors, but columnist Dave Baumeister reminds us why we must keep up the fight against the predatory SDGOP and the out-of-state interests who capture it for their gain:

Sheriff Dave isn't soft on crime, but he doesn't cotton to bond-sharks bringing him repeat business.
Sheriff Dave isn’t soft on crime, but he doesn’t cotton to bond-sharks bringing him repeat business.

Greetings, Blogophiles!

On the CNN website, there was an interesting article today about the woes of the bail bond industry in the country. And who did they decide to focus on? Those bail bondsmen extraordinaire, the Lederman brothers.

I doubt there is anyone who reads the DFP who doesn’t know, but just in case, the chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party and former state senator from Union County, Dan Lederman, is one of those brothers referred to in the CNN article.

According to the Arizona Jewish Post, Lederman came to South Dakotas in the late 1990s specifically to get a South Dakota address so he could garner a bail bonds license, and the brothers could expand the family business to North Sioux City.

But the CNN piece does not focus on the entrepreneurial spirit of making money any way one can. Instead, it focuses how the Ledermans and other members of their industry exploit the poorest people and perpetuate their seemingly endless cycle of incarceration.

According to CNN, many efforts are being made around the country to eliminate the idea of cash bond. As it is, the bonding system can be responsible for creating more crime as the poor are put in an almost impossible position of trying to pay the 10-percent plus interest owed on a bond loan.

In essence, a bail bond is nothing more than a high-interest payday-type loan that South Dakota voters did away with in 2016.

CNN reviewed all 50 states, and it found that “the powerful industry has killed reform efforts in at least nine states, which combined cover more than one third of the country’s population.”

Now I don’t have a problem with the Constitutional right to bail; where I have the problem is not only using that system to make money, but then trying every way to influence state governments to keep bail reform from happening.

Efforts to reform this shady system wouldn’t keep people locked up and not allow them to bond out; rather, they seek other ways to pay a bond, or to eliminate the cash bonding system all together.

When a judge sets a defendant’s bail, in order to get out of jail before the trial, that bail money has to be paid. Bails are usually set high enough to make a person think twice before not showing up at court.

To get that money, a defendant goes to a bail bondsman and agrees to pay a fee (usually 10%), and the bonding office then pays the court to free the accused.

When the defendant shows up at trial, all that money is returned to the bonding office, even if the person is found guilty. So, as long as a person shows up, and most people do, the bail bondsman is not out as much as one penny.

However, the bond-borrower is still on the hook for bail bondsman’s 10%, as well as the massive interest that usually comes with it.

This creates the same endless cycle of needing money that the people of South Dakota rejected when they kicked Chuck Brennan and his ilk to the curb in 2016.

So, let me sum up: a person of limited means accused of a crime could go to jail, could have to pledge 10% to make bail, could religiously make his court dates, could be found innocent, could have an entire bail paid returned to the bondsman, and could end up driven to really commit a crime to pay his 10% and the mega-interest that goes with it.

Does anyone think that is a fair system?

And by donating lots and lots of money to politicians (mainly Republicans), as the bail industry does, and worming their way into state governments, as Dan Lederman did, companies like the Lederman Bail Bonds of Des Moines and AAA Bail bonds of North Sioux City have managed to create a problem and prevent us the people from seeking any meaningful solution.


  1. mike from iowa 2019-08-30 18:52

    Does anyone think that is a fair system? Your last paragraph answers this question.

  2. Porter Lansing 2019-08-30 19:15

    This subject answers my question about why SD has such high fines for simple possession of pot when every state surrounding has none. To make more money for Lederman and Powers.
    ~ It’s said that we don’t exactly know where America is going but we can be certain that California will get there first.
    – The California Money Bail Reform Act 2018 not only eliminates cash bail, but it also establishes an alternative system based on risk assessment and the probability that a defendant will return to court for appearances. The main purpose of the updated California bail law is to narrow the economic gaps in the criminal justice system.

    Under the law, those charged with certain nonviolent misdemeanors may be automatically released within twelve hours of booking without requiring a risk assessment. However, others will face a risk assessment based on the specific charges they face, their prior history, safety concerns for victims, and other factors at a judge’s discretion. The risks levels are categorized as follows:

    Low Risk: Defendants would be released with the least restrictive non-monetary conditions possible.
    Medium Risk: Defendants could be released or be held, depending on local standards.
    High Risk: Defendants would stay in custody until their arraignment.
    Defendants with multiple prior failures to appear, recent felony convictions, or a history of domestic violence allegations would be characterized as higher risk and therefore unlikely to face release. For those in the medium and low risk categories, judges would ultimately determine whether they can be released safely, which may include the use of monitoring.
    The risks are determined, in part, by an algorithm with several factors about the defendant, including:
    Zip codes;
    Housing status;
    Employment data; and
    Arrest history.

  3. Debbo 2019-08-30 23:48

    If there is a way for a member of the GOP to make life worse for someone else, they’ll do it. If there isn’t a way, they’ll corrupt the nearest government so they can create one. That must be a requirement for membership, a tendency toward cruelty.

  4. Clyde 2019-08-31 06:20

    Says a lot for South Dakota.

    A leader in the sleaziest business in the US holds such power as he does in this good old RED state.

    Liberal’s ought to make a issue of this and push for the California reforms that Porter mention’s.

  5. Dave Baumeister 2019-08-31 08:23

    Porter and Clyde (and anyone else),
    Make sure you read that entire CNN article. It references the California measure and how the bail bond folks have made a successful push to get in on the 2020 ballot. I would guess the good people of CA will still vote for the new law to take effect, but the bail people have now given themselves another 14-plus months to make money off people’s misery. I had something else to write about this week, but I saw that on CNN and said that my new friends at the DFP need to hear about this!

  6. Porter Lansing 2019-08-31 09:48

    Absolutely, DFP people need to be outraged at the Lederman exploitation of South Dakota. May I say, with no prejudice … “If it weren’t for Jesus, they’d be tarred and feathered.”
    ~ Josh Lederman, one of the owners of Lederman Bail Bonds, began attending monthly public meetings for Department of Corrections where he questioned the merits of the pilot program.
    Along the way, he opened up his wallet, giving more than $36,000 to Republicans, mostly those running for the Iowa state legislature, donating more in one year than he had in the past 15 years combined. Some of the candidates were running unopposed in their races.
    But his biggest investment started in 2017, before the 2018 legislative session, when he began shelling out about $74,000 to date to hire a powerful lobbying firm in Des Moines.
    The Lederman’s lobbying efforts worked, according to officials in the state justice system and Democratic state lawmakers.
    Late in the legislative session last year, language to end the program was inserted into the Justice Systems appropriations bill which passed, killing the bail reform pilot program.

  7. bearcreekbat 2019-08-31 11:45

    Federal pre-trial release laws for those charged with a federal crime make a lot more sense than our archiac state laws. In the federal system a defendant often appears before a federal magistrate with a presumption that the defendant ought to be released prior to trial on an “unsecured appearance bond,” which requires no money up front.

    Title 18, United States Code, Section 3142(b) requires a judicial officer to order the pretrial release of a defendant on “personal recognizance” or upon the defendant’s execution of an “unsecured appearance bond” in an amount specified by the court. A Section 3142(b) release order must be conditioned on a defendant’s agreement to “not commit a Federal, State, or local crime during the period of release.”

    If a magistrate determines a defendant does not quality for presumptive release then the magistrate must consider two factors – what conditions are reasonably likely to assure the defendant’s appearance and whether the defendant presents a danger to any person or the community. The court’s finding on these factors establish whether certain conditions of release are necessary. A magistrate can impose a variety of contitions for release such as ankle monitoring, no contact with the alleged victim, substance abuse treatment, home confinement, or whatever else the judge finds necessary to keep everyone safe and assure the defendant will show up in court. The defendant can appeal the magistrate’s order imposing conditions or denial of release to the Federal District Court Judge and that Judge’s ruling to the Circuit Court of Appeals and even seek review by cert in the SCOTUS.

    There are many additional details, twists and turns, and legal rules that affect a magistrate’s authority to detain or release, but this is a thumb-sketch of how the non-cash system works in federal court. Such a model could be easily adaptable to state crimes and would much fairer than our current requirement of cash bonds. Of course such a change would adversely affect the income of people involved in the bail bond business like Mr. Lederman. Perhaps that is why we haven’t changed our unfair State bail laws to date.

  8. mike from iowa 2019-08-31 13:01

    All the legal stuff bcb reports i great. I learn a lot from his wise and informative posts. I’m gonna guess he spells out the rules with the idea all magistrates and judges have open minds/no prejudices against immigrant POC.

    I can see where the open mindedness is likely a product of which political party got them where the judges/magistrates are today. This is especially true, imho, with the party occupying the kremlin annex and US Sinate.

    It might be a rather small 800 pound gorilla in the room, but I am positive justice from wingnuts comes with jaundiced, litmus tested eyes.

  9. bearcreekbat 2019-08-31 14:12

    mfi, I don’t harbor any misconception that “all magistrates and judges have open minds/no prejudices against immigrant POC” or any other group. Judges and magistrates are, after all, just like the rest of us, flawed human beings. Even so, reasonable laws and rules can offer some basis for protection against closed minded or prejudiced officials. In fact, one of the great joys in my life experience has been using actual laws to stop public officials that should know better but implement unlawful policies that diminish rather than honoring the legal or constitutional rights of the indigent – sort of like Cory has recently done with his federal lawsuits against state officials.

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