The Carlos Files: On Bail Bonds, Bounty Hunters and American Justice

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Why you should care

Examining another crack in the American justice system.

The Carlos Files is an ongoing OZY series with life lessons, great stories and advice from OZY co-founder Carlos Watson.

Bounty hunters are neither police nor thugs. Instead, they are the enforcers for bond agents if a defendant skips his or her court date. But times are changing for those in the bounty hunting profession because cash bail may be on its way out. OZY’s Meghan Walsh reported on the story in Mesa County, Colorado, following 31-year-old Tushina Crum and her junior partner, Ileana Zamudio, who are seeing a slowdown in their business.

Bail bondsmen say they are issuing about half as many bonds as they did just a few years ago. While the alternative to bonds — for example, court supervision — may be bad for bail bond business, it can also lead to less strain on those too poor to pay for bail and fewer people in jail pretrial. Is it time to change an antiquated bail bond system? What about the great American bounty hunter?

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