Cultural Revolutions

Glorified on TV

Bounty hunters with a license to kill are glorified on television every week. The reality is uglier and more terrifying than most of us imagine. In Phoenix, a group of heavily armed bounty hunters, wearing ski-masks and body armor, sledgehammered their way through the front door of a private residence, tied up a mother, and held her and her three children at gunpoint. As the thugs broke into the room where Chris Foote and Tina Wright were sleeping, they were met with gunfire from Foote's 9 mm pistol. The invaders laid down a fusillade of rifle fire, killing the couple.

The bounty hunters were looking, so they say, for a man who had skipped out on a $25,000 bond in California. They got the wrong house. It's a simple mistake. It could happen to anyone. People in Arizona are naturally outraged, and reformers are calling for laws licensing and regulating bounty hunters. It seems virtually anyone can become a bounty hunter, even convicted felons. One of the suspects in the case, Michael Sanders, has been implicated in several robberies. In 1993, he was arrested on a weapons charge when an earlier bounty case resulted in a shooting death. He was also arrested after he invaded a home and threatened a man with a chemical spray. In that case, too, Sanders had picked the wrong house. Charged with criminal trespass and aggravated assault, he was never prosecuted.

What has given Michael Sanders impunity? According to the Arizona...

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