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    33. To Catch a Fugitive

    en-usMay 25, 2011

    About this Episode

    Who is likelier to get to the fugitive first? When a fugitive is on the run, it’s not only the police he has to worry about. A bounty hunter could be coming after him, too.

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Contrary to common misconceptions, bounty hunters have a higher success rate in capturing fugitives than the police, and bail bondsmen ensure a defendant shows up for trial in exchange for a fee. If the defendant skips their court date, bondsmen's money is at risk.
    • Commercial bail bonds and bounty hunters increase the likelihood that defendants show up for trial and reduce costs for the legal system. Though controversial, they remain legal in most states and serve as an important tool for ensuring justice is served.
    • The bond co-signing system used by bail bondsmen encourages fugitives to show up for trial, and if they don't, bounty hunters have a financial incentive to catch them, making the private industry's approach to justice more effective and cost-efficient.
    • Bounty hunters, who are incentivized by higher pay and solely focused on fugitive recovery, have a much higher success rate than police in capturing fugitives. Bob Burton's network of bounty hunters boasts a 97% success rate.
    • Becoming a successful bounty hunter requires patience, communication skills, and the ability to handle betrayal. The job involves purchasing equipment and utilizing phone skills to track fugitives across multiple states. Adrenaline rushes are rare, and TV portrayals are often misleading.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The Truth about Bounty Hunters and Bail Bondsmen

    Contrary to popular belief, bounty hunters have a higher capture rate than the police and rely on repeat business rather than roughing up their fugitives. The main goal of commercial bail-bond industry is to guarantee the defendant will show up for their trial, with bail bondsmen agreeing to pay the court the bail amount in return for a fee paid by the defendant. In the event that the defendant skips their court date, it is the bondsmen's money at risk. If a high-profile figure like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is out on bail, were to flee, the bounty hunters would be called in to track them down.

    The Importance and Controversy of Commercial Bail Bonds and Bounty Hunters in the US Criminal Justice System

    Bounty hunters and commercial bail bonds play a crucial role in the criminal justice system in the US, increasing the likelihood that a defendant will show up for their trial and reducing costs for the legal system. Data shows that 25% of felony defendants fail to show up on their trial date, causing a waste of resources for courts, lawyers, and law enforcement. However, those released on commercial bail are more likely to show up to court and less likely to flee due to the financial incentives for the bondsman and cosigners. The controversy surrounding commercial bail bonds and bounty hunters in the US is still present, though four states have banned its use, it remains legal in most states and serves as an important tool for ensuring justice is served.

    Why Bounty Hunters are More Effective Than Police at Catching Fugitives

    Bounty hunters are more effective than police at catching fugitives because they have a financial incentive. The bond co-signing system, which involves the fugitive's mother, is used to encourage them to show up for trial, as the mother may lose her house if they don't. Bail bondsman work at no expense to taxpayers, and if the fugitive is not caught within 90-180 days, the bail is forfeited and goes to the taxpayer or crime victim fund. The private industry's approach to catching fugitives is preferred over the government's because it's more effective and allows justice to be served without costing taxpayers. A large organization of bounty hunters operates throughout the United States and made over 30,000 arrests last year.

    Bob Burton and his 1,500 Bounty Hunters - More Effective than the Police

    Bob Burton runs a network of 1,500 bounty hunters who are more effective at capturing fugitives than the police, as per a Department of Justice report. They have a 97% success rate while the police have a 50-60% success rate. The difference lies in their incentives and duties. While police have other cases to pursue and only work 40 hours a week, bounty hunters are paid more for one arrest than police might earn in a week. Bob Burton started as an insurance broker in California in the 80s, but after covering the El Salvador War for a magazine, he became a bounty hunter. His network, the United States Coalition of Bail Recovery Agents, includes 400 women because they make excellent bounty huntresses.

    What it takes to be a Bounty Hunter

    Bounty hunters are responsible for their own equipment and must purchase items like handcuffs and pistols, as well as have access to a transportation vehicle. These hunters are often called upon to find fugitives in different states and must have excellent phone skills to gather information from various sources such as district attorneys and attorneys. A bounty hunter's job is mostly boring, only rarely providing adrenaline rushes. The profession is often portrayed inaccurately on television, including the appearance of bounty hunters. Betrayal is a common occurrence in this line of work, with numerous people potentially acting as 'Judases' in their lives. Overall, being a successful bounty hunter requires dedication, patience, and strong communication skills.

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