Recent bond-jumping begs question: Who's responsible?

Capt. Louise Casper
Capt. Louise Casper
Joel Luna
Joel Luna

By Jena Johnson - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - According to an Angelina County jailer, about 20 percent of people that make bond never make it to court.

"It's like throwing their money away because if they don't show the bond company has to produce a body or the money," Capt. Louise Casper said.

Joel Luna falls into that category. He missed his sentencing hearing for aggravated robbery Tuesday afternoon. So now, it's up to the bail bondsman to hunt Luna down.

"If the bondsman can't get him, it goes through the courts for forfeiter," Casper said. "Sometimes they're arrested out of state and we have done that in the past."

If that happens, Casper says taxpayers could be stuck footing the bill for tracking down missing criminals.

"They're going to be moving here and there and the man hours for the gas and vehicle wear and sometimes they go out of state," Casper said.

Last month, Luna pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery. At that hearing he was arrested for an outstanding warrant. The judge recommended a personal recognizance bond, which is essentially a written promise that they'll show up in court. Casper says this type of bond is rare.

PR bonds can be risky. She says they're usually granted when an inmate suffers a costly illness.

"You want to outweigh whether they're going to cost taxpayers more money by putting them in the ICU because people come in here with heart problems dialysis and dialysis is very expensive," Casper said.

Right now, finding Luna is in the hands of a bondsman. If he returns empty-handed, Luna will be wanted by the law.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.