I am always amazed at how little people really know about the Bail Bond industry. Most people have never been in need of a bail bond and their sole knowledge is based on the TV News explaining that the perpetrator of some crime is in custody on a $50,000 bond. Joe Q. Public has no clue what that actually means, other than $50,000 seems like an awful lot of money.
Few, but the most well heeled of people just happen to have $50,000 in the bank, just sitting around, waiting for such a rainy day. So enter the Bail Bondsman. For a 10% fee they guarantee to the court that the defendant will appear in court at the appointed day and time, and in the case of a no show they will pay the court the entire bond amount, whatever that might be.
That is a gross oversimplification of the process, but this is an article not a text book.
The other source of knowledge that Joe Q. Public has about the bail bond industry is garnered from the various Reality TV programs about Bounty Hunters. These are the men and women who recover fugitives, people that have failed to make their appointment in court. It varies from state to state, but a Bail Bondsman does have a grace period to return the fugitive to the court before having to pay the $50,000 or whatever the amount of the bond might be.
The TV shows are fun, swashbuckling folks in fancy costumes apprehending nerr-do-wells. The next time you watch one of these ‘Reality’ shows pay attention to the ending credits, often they will include credit for ‘Script Writer’. Why on earth would you have a script writer? What possible function could they perform if the subject of the program is merely to document an event?
The real life recovery agents, that’s the PC version of Bounty Hunter are quite a bit different from the cartoon characters on TV. Yes, some are colorful characters, but it is not a façade, it is who they are, others are more unassuming, they are just regular folks, people you might meet in a local pub, or in the supermarket and strike up a conversation with.
The one thing I have come to know in my time getting to know some Hunters is that they are very intelligent people. They are thinkers, they are not jack booted thugs kicking down doors and terrifying old ladies.
They don’t dress up like characters out of a Marvel Comic, or the latest Barbie Doll release. They don’t ponce around with Paintball Guns or cans of pepper spray, they carry real guns, and they understand the consequences of using them.
Which brings me to the point of this article. Sorry it has been so long winded. The Commercial Bond industry has been seriously under fire for a decade from a number of places. It has been portrayed as a blood sucker that does nothing but take money from people in need. A better solution (so the argument goes), is to let the states government handle the problem under PTR, PTS, and PT everything else. For the uninitiated, these are the various versions of Pre Trial Release.
The Bail Bond industry is being eroded, little by little, state by state, county by county, PTR is taking over.
It is possible, just possible, that PTR can be stopped, or at least slowed down, but that requires the entire Bail Bond industry regardless of state to unite and fight.
The nearest thing to a united front might be the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS). They claim to have 15,000 members, so they should be in a great position to organize the ‘troops’ and start a serious offence against PTR.
They have just wrapped up their winter shindig in Las Vegas and voted in a new president to lead them. It is none other than well known TV reality show star Beth Chapman. The messages I have been getting for the past 24 hours have been very negative. Mostly concerning her husband Duane. He after all is the star of the show. What licenses does he actually have? I for one have no clue.
Who else was running for election? No idea
What were the vote counts? No idea
I’d love to get some answers so maybe someone that attended the conference might enlighten me. Sure, the feedback I am getting is from the grumpaholics, so maybe it is just sour grapes.
What does Beth plan to do to stop PTR?