Local News

Wake Sheriff Wants To Change Way Bondsmen Conduct Business

Posted December 16, 2002 5:23 a.m. EST

— Two weeks into his tenure as Wake County sheriff, Donnie Harrison is dealing with his first controversy. He wants to change the way bail bondsmen do business.

Bail bondsmen filed into Sheriff Donnie Harrison's office Monday to talk about conducting business at the Wake County jail. Over the weekend, deputies removed bondsmen and members of the public they felt were hanging around the lobby.

"It's not right and that lobby is not meant to be soliciting business," Harrison said.

Harrison said he will uphold the law that prohibits bail agents from soliciting at the jail, but some bondsmen claim kicking them out is not the answer.

"I guess I'm going to have to see if the city will let me put a tent out here if that's the way it's going to be. I mean, it's city streets. I've got to make my money," bondsman George Latham said.

Alphabetical lists of bondsmen are posted in every jail pod and in the lobby by the phones. The yellow pages are packed with bail agents.

"We are members of a time-honored profession that dates back to the code of Hammurabi," bondsman Carlyle Poindexter said.

Poindexter said he supports the sheriff's moves because he claims on-site solicitation hurts his business.

"Absolutely, it was unfair competition and it was absolutely unethical," he said.

Others wonder if clearing out the lobby will benefit bigger name bondsmen and those who contributed to Harrison's campaign.

"I don't think he's going to treat us less than he's going to treat his pets," Latham said.

Harrison said all bondsmen will be treated fairly.

"We'll come up with a workable solution, but to say they're going to camp out in the lobby. It's not going to happen," he said.

Harrison said he had a good meeting with bondsmen Monday afternoon. He said he will take their suggestions and make policy changes in the coming weeks.