Bounty Hunters

The target is on the loose. He was supposed to show up in court to plead his case, but lost his nerve and skipped it. Now the judge is mad. No one likes to be stood up—especially judges. So with the slam of a gavel, the judge says the bail-jumper’s got to be found. The bail-bond agency that vouched for him has got to hand over the bail cash if he’s not. No bonding agency wants to lose thousands of dollars because a defendant doesn’t want to go to court. So the hunt for the jumper begins.

 Enter the bounty hunters. They only get paid if they apprehend the jumpers. No jumper—no food on the table. Bounty hunters are paid a percentage of the subject’s bond amount, so it’s a volume business—snag more jumpers, make more money. Kenny Gibbons, of Savannah’s Payless Bail Bonds, estimates that he makes about 100 apprehensions a year, which can be lucrative depending on the cash value of the bonds. It’s a risky proposition, but a trait evident with most bounty hunters is that the thrill of the pursuit is half the reward. “The fun is in the hunt itself,” says Yvonne Mason, a bounty hunter in Georgia who blogs about her profession.

 So how about Dog the Bounty Hunter, the reality-TV star who famously subdues his prey on camera with a fire-extinguisher-sized can of pepper spray? “As bounty hunters, we have to watch what we say, how we say it and—no, we aren’t supposed to kick in doors. If we do cause any damage to the location, we can be charged with destruction of property. If we try to pick up the wrong person, we can be charged with assault and, if we draw our weapon, we can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Personally I don’t want to become the hunted, and I really don’t want to fork over money in fines,” Mason explains.

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