How to Become a Bounty Hunter in Wisconsin

Since 1979, bounty hunting has been banned in Wisconsin. Current Wisconsin laws state that “no surety can be compensated for serving a surety,” thereby completely eliminating the commercial bail bond business in the state. If you are a fugitive recovery agent in Wisconsin, you are committing a crime liken to kidnapping; only Wisconsin law enforcement officers have the ability to arrest and detain fugitives. Accordingly, there are no classes or certifications for bail enforcement officers in the state.

If a law enforcement career  in Wisconsin is something you want to pursue, you should earn a degree in criminal justice, criminology, or public administration in lieu of bounty hunting. Any one of these degrees will help qualify you for positions in related fields, such as police officer or professional investigator.

Bail Bond Basics in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s pretrial system is managed by the courts or the local government. If you are charged with a crime, your bail is set and determined by a judge based on an assessment of your flight risk. You then pay bail directly to the court or are released on your own recognizance if the judge deems it appropriate. If you appear in court as planned, you are refunded the amount paid minus court fees. However, if you miss your court date, you forfeit your bail and an arrest warrant is issued. The court, in turn, keeps your bail as a fee and local law enforcement, not a bail enforcement agent, conducts a manhunt to re-arrest you.

Reasoning Behind the Bounty Hunting Ban

Many Wisconsin officials believe that the bail bond business leads to corruption. Since bail amounts are set by judges and higher bail leads to increased profits for a bail bondsman, it can potentially lead to corruption in the system. When bounty hunting was legal, there were incentives to elect judges who were partial to the bail bond industry. A bail bondsman receives 10 % of the bail set by a judge, so the higher the bail, the higher the profits for the bail bondsman.

Defenders of the current Wisconsin system believe the commercial bail bond business punishes you if you are unable to afford bail. The Wisconsin non-commercial bail bond system is more beneficial as it reduces the number of people in jail and saves the state money. Since adopting the 1979 non-commercial bond system, there has been a 5-6 % decrease in the Wisconsin jail population according to Rep. Fred Kessler. Fewer people in jail cost tax payers and the state less money.

Future of Bounty Hunting in Wisconsin

Many officials prefer the current system, as it does not force people who cannot afford bail to lose the 10 % fee paid to a bail bondsman, and it is believed to eliminate corruption. However, as recent as June 2011, a bill was introduced to re-instate the commercial bail bond industry. This was not the first time since the ban was passed that a bill has been introduced to re-instate bounty hunting. In 2003, Rep. Scott Suder led the effort to re-instate bounty hunting. As it stands now, bounty hunting is still outlawed in the sate. In February 2012, the governor of Wisconsin vetoed the 2011 bounty hunting measure.