Fine dodgers – A better solution

The government has announced that it is looking at locking up fine dodgers.

The government is cracking down on fine dodgers, with unpaid fines now to be met with home detention and jail time.

Nearly $255 million worth of fines were collected last year but $140 million had to be written off.

Changes to the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, which are likely to become law early this year, aim to reduce that amount.

Under the proposed law, unaffordable and unenforceable fines could be replaced by home detention and prison sentences.

New Zealand’s biggest fine evader lives in exile in Surfers Paradise owing $1.8 million.

Given that they are looking at changing legislation might I suggest a more market driven approach be tried. Bounty Hunters.

When felony defendants jump bail, bounty hunters spring into action. It’s a uniquely American system, and it works.

Andrew Luster had it all: a multimillion-dollar trust fund, good looks, and a bachelor pad just off the beach in Mussel Shoals, California. Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics legend Max Factor, spent his days surfing and his nights cruising the clubs. His life would have been sad but unremarkable if he had not had a fetish for sex with unconscious women. When one woman alleged rape, Luster claimed mutual consent, but the videotapes the police discovered when they searched his home told a different story. Eventually, more than 10 women came forward, and he was convicted of 20 counts of rape and sentenced to 124 years in prison. There was only one problem. Luster could not be found.

Shortly before he was expected to take the stand, Luster withdrew funds from his brokerage accounts, found a caretaker for his dog, and skipped town on a $1 million bail bond. The FBI put Luster on its most-wanted list, but months passed with no results. In the end, the authorities did not find him. But Luster was brought to justice—by a dog (or at least a man who goes by that name). Duane Chapman, star of the A&E reality TV show Dog: The Bounty Hunter, tracked Luster for months. He picked up clues to Luster’s whereabouts from old phone bills and from Luster’s mother, who inadvertently revealed that her son spoke fluent Spanish. He also gleaned useful information from a mysterious Mr. X who taunted him by e-mail and who may have been Luster himself. Finally, a tip from someone who had seen Dog on television brought Chapman to a small town in Mexico known for its great surfing. Days later, he and his team spotted Luster at a taco stand, apprehended him, and turned him over to the local police.

Same applies for the fine absconder currently living in Surfers Paradise. Set the bounty hunters after them and reef him back here. Before the liberal panty-waists have conniptions about having bounty hunters roaming the country side they should think forst about how successful our current system isn’t, then look at the core qualities of the most effective bounty hunters in the uS.

What it takes to be a successful bounty hunter is mostly persistence and politeness. On most days your leads don’t pay off, so you need to visit and revisit the fugitive’s home, work, and favorite hangouts. Waiting is a big part of the game. Why politeness? Well, where do the leads come from? From people like Chrissy’s aunt—relatives and friends who might not talk to the police but who will respond to a kind word. Bounty hunters are polite even to the fugitives who, after all, are also their customers, and sadly, bounty hunters rely a lot on repeat business. One customer of a firm owned by the same family that runs the one Dennis works for told him proudly, “My family and I have been coming to Frank’s Bail Bonds for three generations.”

Most fugitives don’t fight, and Dennis is eager to avoid confrontation. Cowboys don’t last long in this business. Most bounty hunters have a working relationship with police officers and will sometimes call on them to make the arrest once a fugitive has been located.

A bounty hunter also benefits from being prepared. A typical application for a bond, for example, requires information about the defendant’s residence, employer, former employer, spouse, children (along with their names and schools), spouse’s employer, mother, father, automobile (including description, tags, and financing), union membership, previous arrests, and so forth. In addition, bond dealers need access to all kinds of public and private databases. Noted bounty hunter Bob Burton says that a list of friends who work at the telephone, gas, or electric utility, the post office, welfare agencies, and in law enforcement is a major asset. Today, familiarity with the Internet and computer databases is a must.

In order to make this work though, Simon Power is going to have to be replaced from Justice, which of course would be a good thing, since he is criminal friendly. And then the laws will need to be robust, like Crusher’s car crushing law.

Bounty hunters have robust rights to arrest fugitives. They can, for example, lawfully break into a suspect’s home without a warrant, pursue and recover fugitives across state lines without necessity of extradition proceedings, and search and seize without the constraint of the Fourth Amendment’s “reasonableness” requirement. Just like everyone else, however, bounty hunters must obey the criminal statutes. A bounty hunter who uses unreasonable force or mistakenly enters the home of someone who is not a bail jumper is subject to criminal prosecution.

The statistics back up the success of a bounty hunter system too.

My interest in commercial bail and bounty hunting began when economist Eric Helland and I used data on 36,231 felony defendants released between 1988 and 1996 to investigate the differences between the public and private systems of bail and fugitive recovery. Our study, published in TheJournal of Law and Economicsin 2004, is the largest and most comprehensive ever written on the bail system.

Our research backs up what I found on the street: Bail bondsmen and bounty hunters get their charges to show up for trial, and they recapture them quickly when they do flee. Nationally, the failure-to-appear rate for defendants released on commercial bail is 28 percent lower than the rate for defendants released on their own recognizance, and 18 percent lower than the rate for those released on government bond.

Even more important, when a defendant does skip town, the bounty hunters are the ones who pursue justice with the greatest determination and energy. Defendants sought by bounty hunters are a whopping 50 percent less likely to be on the loose after one year than other bail jumpers.

And the best part in all this?

In addition to being effective, bail bondsmen and bounty hunters work at no cost to the taxpayers. The public reaps a double benefit, because when a bounty hunter fails to find his man, the bond is forfeit to the government. Because billions of dollars of bail are written every year and not every fugitive is caught, bond forfeits are a small but welcome source of revenue. At the federal level, forfeits help fund the Crime Victim Fund, which does what its name suggests, and in states such as Virginia and North Carolina they yield millions of dollars for public schools. Indeed, budget shortfalls around the nation are leading to a reconsideration of commercial bail. Oregon, which banned commercial bail in 1974, is considering a controversial bill to reinstate it, and even Illinois, nearly 50 years after establishing its alternative system, may once again allow bail bondsmen.

We don’t need to do any research into this, its all been done and the statistics and the benefits are proven. High time we started best of breed solutions because everything else has failed.

I say we should give it a go, what do we have to lose….there are millions outstanding already.


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

Tagged:
41%