The Norman Transcript

Local news

December 9, 2009

Personal recognizance bonds let defendants get out of jail for free

Lawyers and bondsmen say jail overcrowding a factor as more suspects let go without putting up cash

Roger Lee Shrum was charged in Cleveland County District Court earlier this year with conspiracy and arson in connection with a 3-year-old unsolved homicide.

He was released from jail custody after he posted a personal recognizance bond, court records show. Shrum, 41, of Moore, is among a number of Cleveland County defendants who haven't had to post any money to get out of jail.

A personal recognizance bond releases a defendant from jail once that person has signed a written agreement or promised to make their next court appearance.

Court records show Shrum, Harley Davidson Scott, 28, and Bill Joe Scott, 50, were charged Aug. 10 with conspiracy, second-degree arson and third-degree arson. Prosecutors have accused the men of planning to set fire to and destroy a woman's residence in Norman and another residence belonging to the woman in August 2006 to cover up evidence relating to her murder, according to court papers.

Harley Davidson Scott is in prison, according to court records. Scott is serving time at the R.B. Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy for conspiracy to commit a felony, embezzlement, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous drug, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and escape from a penal institution.

Bill Scott's whereabouts are unknown. According to court records, a warrant for his arrest was issued Aug. 21.

When Shrum made his initial court appearance Aug. 18, Cleveland County prosecutors asked that bond be set at $20,000. According to the court minute filed, Special District Judge Rod Ring ordered the man released, once he could post a personal recognizance bond.

Purpose not to punish

Shrum's attorney Tim Kuykendall said he has hundreds of clients released on personal recognizance bonds besides Shrum.

"The purpose of bond is not to punish," Kuykendall said. "The purpose is to make sure they appear in court when they're supposed to appear in court."

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