Records: Dallas County owed millions in jumped bail



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Posted on July 1, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 1 at 8:35 PM

DALLAS - In recent days, there's been scrutiny of the Dallas County bail bond board that oversees bail bonds companies.

Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is under an FBI investigation, sits on the board.

The Dallas Morning News has learned bail bondsmen owe millions of dollars to Dallas County. The bondsmen who have done business with the county owe at least $35 million in bonds that were forfeited after the money wasn't collected from people who jumped bail.

Here's how it works. When someone jumps bail, the bail bonds company owe the county a 100 percent of the bond because they guarantee the person they bonded out will show up in court. There are 39 companies the board monitors, which is supposed to make sure the bonds are being paid and the county gets its money. 

The Dallas Morning News took a look at the records dating back decades and found that millions of dollars in forfeited bonds were never paid to the county because there is no real way to monitor which bondsmen owe money. Apparently, there's no system in place to alert the board when companies don't pay because the computer system in outdated.   

County Judge Clay Jenkins sits on the board. He said as far as he knows, the system is working and things are in order.

"I checked yesterday and we have currently about zero dollars that are outstanding for those companies," he said. "They are liquid. They are doing a good job. When they lose a person or a person absconds, they owe us 100 percent of that bond, plus expenses, plus costs."

The Dallas Morning News has been looking into this issue for months and examined thousands of documents. There will be much more on the story in Sunday's Dallas Morning News.