Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman and his wife, Beth, who ended their reality television show in what they referred to as an attempt to “save” the bail industry, made the state Capitol in Hartford part of their traveling road show Monday.
Beth Chapman was camped outside the Senate chambers, along with other bail bondsmen from the state of Connecticut and New York, stating their opposition to a bill that would change how the cash bail system in Connecticut works.
Under the bill, S.B. 18, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would allow individuals who commit misdemeanors to appear in court on a promise-to-appear.
The legislation prohibits a judge from setting a money bail for anyone charged with a misdemeanor, with a few exceptions. The legislation would give judges discretion to impose a cash bond on individuals who pose an immediate threat to the health or well-being of another person.
Certain misdemeanors, like domestic violence charges, would still require a cash bail under Malloy’s proposal.
If a bond with surety is set as a condition of release, the governor’s legislation would give defendants an opportunity to make a cash deposit of 10 percent to the court or hire a bail bondsman. Lawmakers are expected to consider an amendment that would leave the cash bail system in place for more violent offenders, who would still be able to use bail bondsmen.
Chapman, who said she has been trekking around the country along with her husband to try to beat back similar legislative initiatives in other states, argued that the legislation is flawed.
“These are not victimless crimes,” said Chapman, president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS).
“At what point do we say enough is enough?” Chapman said. “These crimes are not minor – we’re talking check fraud, property crimes, and more. Victim’s lives are often left in ruins. Going soft on crime is not the answer.’’
Chapman continued: “Taking the teeth out of the judicial system is not the answer. These people are in prison because they broke the law.”
Chapman added: “We don’t want to have a lawless country. People in the United States are incarcerated at four times the rate of other countries in the world where crime and lawlessness runs rampant. We don’t want the United States to become Syria or Kuwait.’’
Duane and Beth Chapman’s first reality television show aired for eight seasons. They began a second series, which aired for three years before the couple went on hiatus to fight against changes to the bail system.
Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, said he believes this proposal and last year’s legislation, which treats drug possession as a misdemeanor and eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug possession, are making the justice system more fair.
The Senate is expected to debate the legislation later today.