Duane and Beth Chapman of Dog the Bounty Hunter fame are using their popularity in order to defend the cash bail bonds industry against lawsuits and lawmakers who claim the system is unconstitutional. In California, a San Francisco lawsuit was filed by Washington D.C. civil rights group Equal Justice Under Law on behalf of two women who claimed the poor are unfairly forced to sit in jail because they cannot afford bail money while the rich “purchase their freedom.” But Dog’s wife, Beth, argued the bail bonds lawsuit did not consider the victims of the criminals.
The celebrity couple recently announced their decision to have Dog the Bounty Hunter canceled. Beth and Duane Chapman retired Dog and Beth because they believe the cash bail bonds industry is under attack, which in turn means their livelihood as bounty hunters is under attack. In response, Beth announced her candidacy for the presidency of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS).
“Our industry is under attack,” Beth explained earlier in January. “There are bail reform movements springing up across the country that would end the cash bail systems. This would be a disaster.”
Beth believes that “removing the bail system would have a deleterious effect on the criminal justice system,” and she has vowed to fight against “these social justice lackeys [who want] to remove cash bail when their only goal is to make it easier for the bad guys to get out of jail.” The first case to come up was a lawsuit that attempted to dismantle San Francisco’s bail bond system.
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Phil Telfeyan, an attorney with Equal Justice Under Law, argued in court this week that the poor are unfairly burdened by cash bonds.
“The sole criterion determining whether a pretrial arrestee walks free or sits in jail is the amount of money he or she has,” said Telfeyan, according to KTVU.
Jeff Adachi of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office filed a court declaration, which argued that “a fair system of pretrial justice would not rely on monetary conditions, as such conditions penalize arrestees solely based on their wealth status.” In response, Dog the Bounty Hunter’s wife argued that the goal of the lawsuit was unfair to crime victims.
“The victims have not been considered here,” Chapman said. “People who have just been beaten by someone and they finally got their abuser to be put in jail. They don’t need that guy to come back out in 10 minutes with no repercussion, no deterrent, no one looking at them, no one taking care of them.”
Equal Justice Under Law was hoping to elevate their lawsuit to class-action status, but California Federal Judge Gonzalez Rogers struck that idea down, telling the plaintiffs that “pontificating is not legal status.” In a press release by the California Bail Agents Association (CBAA), Beth Chapman celebrated the judge’s decision.
“Bail limits are determined by judges but state law gives the judges authority to make a bail bond commensurate to the violation,” said Chapman. “Just because someone can’t afford the amount authorized by law doesn’t mean their rights are being violated. That’s as ridiculous as suggesting that your rights are being violated if you can’t afford the cost of getting a driver’s license and therefor shouldn’t have to pay.”
Maggie Kriens, the vice president of the CBAA, said there is “is no doubt that our industry would be devastated by a ruling in favor of EJUL,” but she also believes public safety would suffered since alleged criminals could “get out of jail with no supervision or accountability to show up for a court date.”
[Image via CBAA]