That sound you heard one day in April was me sighing while seeing countless Facebook pictures of my friends with Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman and his wife Beth.
To say that I am a Chapman fan is an understatement. I’ve watched virtually every episode of their show, own their books and DVD’s, and even once dressed up as Dog for Halloween!
Dog and Beth were in Sacramento to battle Senate Bill 10, which would effectively gut California’s bail system and let alleged criminals out of jail free by claiming poverty.
As PRI’s Kerry Jackson wrote previously in a column on SB 10 and its twin AB 42, “crime is on the rise and the solution offered by Sacramento is . . . releasing suspected criminals back into the community without requiring them to post bail.” The bill is the latest measure – after realignment, and Props 47 and 57 – tipping the scale of justice in favor of criminals.
The Judicial Council of California – representing California’s judges – worries that SB 10 would “limit the court’s ability to consider the appropriateness of preventive detention in cases where the defendant has a history of violent offenses.”
Governor Brown recently announced what most Californians already knew – the bill is premature. He put the brakes on SB 10 for the 2017 session, while committing to work with all parties to “reform the system in a cost-effective and fair manner, considering public safety as well as the rights of the accused.”
This is the right path forward. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has convened a working group on bail reform that will release its recommendations by December. Brown and his group are collaborating with the Chief Justice and would be wise to incorporate her ideas.
It’s one thing to reform the bail system to address any disparities that result in unfair treatment. It’s quite another to gut the system altogether, which would threaten public safety.
If you watch Dog’s show, you’ll see the important role bounty hunters play in bringing people to justice and providing rehabilitation. In Dog and Beth’s case, they also provide counseling and prayer in the hope that this rock-bottom moment will inspire their captives to turn their lives around. Bounty hunters also help over-burdened law enforcement officers – without cost to taxpayers.
Lawmakers would be wise to walk for a few minutes in the shoes of a bounty hunter. If they do, I’m sure they’ll see what a bad idea it would be to muzzle Dog and his fellow bounty hunters.
Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.