While most professionals do not want more regulation, the bail bond industry in Connecticut firmly supported legislation to rein in rogue bounty hunters. Connecticut is one of many states that looked into reforming its bail bond procedures. These changes had the strong backing of domestic violence advocates.
That may seem odd, but a practice known as undercutting was legal in the state until 2011 in which rogue bail bondsmen were springing defendants without collecting any money upfront. One defendant, after being sprung despite having been arrested twice for domestic violence within four months, killed his wife in a murder-suicide once he was released.
Although Connecticut state law required that bounty hunters collect a percentage of the money before writing a surety bond, unscrupulous agents were establishing payment plans. Even with a $1 million bail, defendants could theoretically be released without paying anything if the bounty hunter was willing to post the bond himself, according to state representative Mae Flexer who was quoted in the Hartford Courant.
The bail bond industry in Connecticut strongly supported changing state law to enforce stronger regulations. The new legislation required that bounty hunters collect a percentage of the fee upfront. Strangely, bounty hunters in Connecticut were not required to keep a record of their payments. This changed with the new law. Now they need to keep such records and give the Insurance Department the authority to inspect all their records and conduct audits.
Bail bond reform is a hot issue throughout the country as arrests have increased – along with an increase in the time it takes for defendants to see a judge – 60% of the people in local jails have not been convicted of a crime and are just waiting for their trial according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Three quarters of these inmates are accused of nonviolent offenses, and incarcerating them is expensive for local governments and can destroy the lives of innocent people who lose their jobs while they are in jail. That system benefits no one.
Professional bounty hunters are among those seeking to improve the current bail bond system in such a way that those who pose a threat to society don’t get released without due process, while those who do not pose a threat are allowed to make use of the bonding process to be freed from jail until the time they are able to stand before a judge.