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'You are a puppet. The bondsman is the puppeteer.' How does TN regulate bounty hunters?

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - We often talk about suspects who are arrested bonding out of jail.  But what exactly does that mean and how does it affect the men and woman who work in the bail bond industry?  

With the recent arrest of three Clarksville bail bondsmen, we wondered what are the rules that govern them?  News 2 spoke to a 30-year vet who said this is a profession that dates back to the wild west.  

Hank Salyer, a professional bail bondsman, runs A Around-The-Clock Bail Bonds just off the courthouse square in Ashland City.  

"When you go to jail, you lose dominion over yourself. The difference between jail and bail is no difference. Except my jail has no bars. We have complete dominion over the person who makes bail. When you are released on bail, you are a puppet. The bondsman is the puppeteer. Any time he decides to pull the strings it is at his leisure when he does it and where he does it.”  

Salyer says bail bondsmen live by a code of ethics and laws that were first established in the wild west. He says that bondsman can, by law, do things that police officers cannot do.   

"We can go into a house to take someone into custody without a warrant." 

Salyer says they don't have to knock, they can break down a door if need be or they can go through a window.  

But Salyer says most bondsman would rather come and go peacefully, quietly, without the neighbors even realizing what is happening.   

"Our objective is to get off the bond and not lose the money, not to create a problem or hassle for somebody.”   

According to Salyer, bondsmen are guaranteed this power by TCA code and a 147 supreme court ruling in 1872 that has never been overturned. 


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