Over the years, Hollywood and the entertainment industry have reached into all aspects of people’s lives so that everything has, at one point or another, been the subject, or been made a part of, some form of entertainment. Whether it is films, books, or television, entertainment has become one of the primary ways in which we learn about a culture and its many different subcultures. And the bail bond industry is no exception.
Are these portrayals accurate, however?
The question is legitimate considering that mediums of entertainment that do not purport to present truth (it aims to entertain) can certainly take liberties with its subject if it meant emphasizing the dramatic content.
Over the years, bail bondsman and their work have been made a part of both literature and film, and surprisingly the variety isn’t that great. There seems to be a sort of emphasis on making bail bondsmen seem like they are unsympathetic characters, unwilling to agree unless you have the money or property to show for it.
By contrast, bail bond recovery agents or bounty hunters have been given a much more heroic aura. Maybe it has to do with our long acquaintance with bounty hunters from old Wild West films as romantic characters riding solitary across dangerous terrain to capture, bring back, or kill dangerous criminals. These days, the “live or die” motif is no longer apt, but there certainly is still a wild west aura to bounty hunters, and they are considered to be heroes in some books and films. This is certainly a far cry from the distrust and suspicion generally accorded to the bail bondsmen line of work .
Perhaps the difference lies in the nature of what they do: bail bondsmen seek to return a fugitive to court to keep their bond from being declared forfeit, and they offer a bail bond arrangement with defendants in exchange for cold hard cash. Bounty hunters, on the other hand, brave the adventure of the open road, utilize their investigative skills to track down fugitives and capture & return defendants to the courts using a combination of intelligence, courage, and maybe a little bit of chutzpah. As far as it goes, do these portrayals seem accurate?
Certainly not, because there are sympathetic bail bondsmen who are truly interested in the welfare of their clients, just as there are some unsympathetic bounty hunters or bail recovery agents whose only interest is in getting paid once their job is done.
And yet, might there not be a grain of truth to these stereotypes, when you consider that the bail bond industry as a whole is now being attacked by legislators in different states as exacerbating the difference between the rich and the poor in the criminal justice system? The criticism is that bail bondsmen are only interested in making a profit out of other people’s misery.
On the other hand, we have reality shows like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” that has gained its own following while purporting to portray reality as it is for bounty hunters. Because it is TV, all the sympathy is with the bounty hunter, and the fugitives they are portraying are seen simply as criminals on the run. But there are inaccuracies and accuracies all over. One simply needs to be able to tell the difference between the two, which is admittedly no longer an easy task these days.
A word of warning should be given here, however, that one must never seek to learn about bail laws and the bail bond industry from fiction, or from reality shows that still aim to entertain more than inform. The process of getting someone released from jail, for instance, through the assistance of a bail bondsman, requires a great deal of administrative work which is hardly ever shown on film. If you wish to learn about how the bail bond industry works, do your research. Go online to read up on it, visit your local library, or ask your local bail bondsman to shed clarity on some of your questions.
The bottom line is, despite the often negative depictions of bail bondsmen in mainstream media, one should always form their own judgments based on their knowledge of actual individuals. There are certainly some bail bondsmen who are in it only for the money, and who won’t think twice about declaring your property or security forfeit if you break the conditions of your bail. But there are also some bail bondsmen who bring a certain dignity to the business, and who treat their clients like lost individuals simply seeking to find their way. Bail bondsmen know that many defendants in criminal proceedings who jump bail only do so because they are afraid. But they also know that many of these defendants do truly wish to do the right thing, and acting more like big brothers or caring fathers, they encourage defendants to do the right thing and to return willingly to face the charges against them.
Bail Bonds in Books, Films and the Entertainment Industry
Updated on 2018-07-18T11:09:50+00:00, by .