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Mar 17, 2010 10:15 PM by Andy Koen

Discrimination alleged in bail bond rates

Local bail bondsmen say getting sprung from jail could cost you more depending on the color of your skin and that state law should be changed to address the issue.

Rick Harper, the owner of Express Bail Out, says the laws regarding bond rates are too lax and have opened the door to problems.

"It's really at a point where I feel that only the state would be able to step in," Harper said.

State law caps to bond rates at 15 percent, but Harper says minorities are more likely to pay that rate than non-minorities.

His research into the issue suggests that on average, blacks pay between 5 -10 percent bonds, hispanics pay 10 -15 percent, and non-minorities pay 2-5 percent.

"That's a huge problem, in my view," Harper said.

He's not alone. Tracy Arentz, the owner of It's a Bond Thing, says she also sees other bondsmen commonly charging minorities more than whites. 

Arentz teaches ethics lessons and legal refresher courses to fellow bondsmen and says what's missing is better education within the industry.

"I think a lot of it that they don't always keep themselves refreshed and up to date on the laws," Arentz said.

Harper agrees and thinks that the fairest way to fix the problem is to change the law and establish a single flat rate for all bonds.

Bondsmen are regulated by the Colorado Division of Insurance and discrimination is prohibited. Call 1-800-930-3745 or click here to report a complaint.

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