School Boards Trying to Collect Forfeited Jail Bonds
Fines and forfeitures of jail bonds account for more than $60 million in school funding across the state.Posted — Updated
In the criminal case of James Marvin Johnson, for example, his brother, Donald Johnson, put up his home and Lillington business, C&J Auto, to cover the $225,000 bond.
A well-known businessman, Johnson pleaded with the court and school board for relief, saying he spent about $50,000 to track down his brother.
Court records show Johnson eventually paid $10,000 of the $225,000. He said he feels like he got off easy.
Johnston County Board of Education attorney Jim Lawrence said school systems are working harder than ever to collect.
"The layperson is not held to the standard of the bail bondsman when it comes time to pay," Woods said. "No, that's not (fair)."
There have been signs that courts are toughening up on those kinds of forfeitures. Harnett County School Board Attorney Duncan McCormick, who approved the reduction in the Johnson bond, said he probably would not have allowed it today.
As for himself, Donald Johnson said he has learned his lesson about ponying up for bonds.
"I will never sign a bond again as long as I live," he said. "If you run, you're guilty. ... The Bible says to forgive, but I never forget."
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