The injustices of the for-profit cash bail system are obvious. It jails people who’ve been accused — not convicted — of a crime, just because they can’t pay the often exorbitant fees set by judges. The billion-dollar bail bond industry flourishes while the unransomed may be held for months or even years awaiting trial, with the taxpayer footing the even more exorbitant cost of jailing all those people.*
Washington D.C. eliminated the money bail system over 20 years ago, replacing it with non-incarceratory conditions. The result is an 88% return-to-court rate — better than the national average. New York, ever on the cutting edge, is now talking about doing the same.
But an Oklahoma bailbondsperson found a simpler solution: shoot the client.
Ms. Chasity [not a typo] Carey, running a bail bond office in downtown Stillwater, summoned her client Brandon Williams to her office, saying she wanted to buy his car for her son. Her real aim was to revoke Brandon’s bail – apparently he wasn’t fully paid up – and take him to jail.
The surveillance video shows Brandon, a cheerful young redneck in a tank top and baseball cap, coming in with some paperwork and taking a chair in front of Chasity’s desk. He shakes hands with her son, a tall skinny teenager, saying, “You’re [just] a boy, ain’tcha?” He chats amiably about cars, advises the kid never to drive a Mustang wearing heavy boots. . .
and, making himself at home, removes one sneaker to examine a blister under his sock.
Chasity, a tough 42-year-old cookie in jeans and a Budweiser t-shirt, gets up from her desk, locks the door behind Brandon and orders him to stand up against the wall. Brandon complies, still holding his shoe, asking in bewilderment, “What’s going on here?” Chasity orders him to turn around to be handcuffed.
“What? What do you mean? What are you doing?” asks Brandon. “I’m not getting no cuffs.”
“Actually, you are,” says Chasity. Her son approaches with the cuffs.
“Why are you doing this to me?” protests Brandon. “Open the door.”
Chasity and her son block the door. Brandon turns away from them and walks past the desk and off-camera to get out through the window. The video shows Chasity going behind the desk, pulling away the desk chair, opening the center drawer and taking out a gun.
She aims the gun with two hands and fires a bullet into Brandon’s back.
You hear a cry of “No!” Then silence.
The son cries, “Mom, you just shot him!”
“I did,” Mom answers calmly. “Call the police.”
The boy is utterly distraught. “911,” says Mom helpfully.
Chasity, apparently unaware of what the video showed, claimed that Brandon had tried to take the gun from the desk drawer, but that she got to it first and shot him in self-defense. The county prosecutor charged her with a single count of first-degree murder.
Chasity was defended by Stevenson Law Firm whose roadside billboard reads, “Just Because You Did It Doesn’t Mean They Can Prove It,” (the Oklahoma cut-the-crap version of “Just because you did it doesn’t mean you’re guilty”). Mr. Stevenson triumphantly noted that the one-count charge gave the jury only the choice between finding premeditated murder and acquittal. Since “premeditated” under Oklahoma law apparently requires proof that the defendant planned the murder sometime the night before, preferably in writing, the jury properly acquitted.
Chasity is reportedly considering a career change, since her bail bond business has likely taken a dip. For some reason, Stillwater defendants prefer to take their chances in jail.
*See the 25-minute documentary, “Inside America’s For-Profit Bail Industry.”