The Baltimore Sun has reported the killing of a woman who worked in the Bail Bonds industry here in Maryland. It is undoubtedly a sad day for those of us who are involved in this dangerous business every day, even for those of us who did not directly know the victim.
In thinking about this tragedy that took place the other day in Columbia, it is hard not to think about the ways in which this could have been avoided. Allegedly, this bail bondswoman was picking up a payment from a client of hers when the shooting took place. Picking up payments is something that was done regularly by bail bonds outfits many years ago. Nowadays, most bail bonds companies require their clients to bring the payments to their offices, send them in the mail, or pay online.
Unfortunately, the bail bonds business is set up in a way that somebody, like the victim in this case, can conduct their business as a 1 person show. Anybody and everybody is a bail bondsman or bail bondswoman today. Heck, you might be living next to one and never even know it. The industry is so loosely regulated that any person with a cell phone and a connection can call a bail in to somebody in order to release an incarcerated and potentially violent defendant.
Nichole McNair, the victim in this case, was an example of a 1 person operation. No articles yet have mentioned her tied directly to any particular bail bonds company. And that is because she isn't. The fact that people are acting alone in a 24 hour business where the tasks are endless is telling of the many problems that exist in this industry.
Let's think about if this scenario would ever be feasible:
Nichole McNair, a single mother, responsible for meeting with clients, answering phones, doing applications, picking up payments, bailing defendants from jail, spending hours at courthouses and jails, explaining warrants, guiding individuals through the court system, managing files, tracking bail jumpers; and all of this before she could even get her kids to school. What is going on here? Is this lady super woman? Maybe she was. But from the perspective of this company these tasks and more are challenging for a staff of 25+ full-time employees, let alone one mother of 3.
Everybody has a right to do what they want within the means of the law to earn an honest living. Ms. McNair had every right to participate in the bail bonds business if that is what she wanted to do with her life. Maryland government has to ask themselves if they want somebody like Ms. McNair to take on the endless responsibilities and dangers associated with this business.
One would hope that the State of Maryland would have higher expectations of bail bonds companies that guarantee defendant's appearance in court. Acting alone in this business is a recipe for disaster in more ways than one. The authorities need to take a more pro-active role in ensuring the integrity of this business, and this whole incident could have possibly been avoided.
A side note: A simple court search shows that Ms. McNair has posted a total of 7 bail bonds by herself in her history. And she is labeled as a bail bondswoman.