By now, almost everyone has heard the ironic story of Duane "Dog" Chapman & his fellow bounty hunters facing extradition to Mexico. The short & sweet version is that Duane, Tim and Leland Chapman went to Mexico a few years ago and tracked down convicted rapist (x3 convictions, but 86 actual cases) Andrew Luster, who had used some of his fortune to shinny away during his U.S. trial.
Luster, heir to the Max Factor millions, lived under an assumed name in Mexico until his capture. He was extradited back to the U.S. and put in prison for 124 years to pay for his crimes. The bounty hunters in this case had expended a considerable amount of money and time in locating Luster, as one might imagine. Their reward? They were thrown in a Mexican jail & required to post bond, because bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico. They were NOT awarded the substantial reward monies offered by the U.S. government for Luster's capture, for reasons I still don't understand.
The Chapmans posted bond and were released from Mexican jail at that time & returned to Hawaii to resume the duties that keep their families fed -- finding & securing criminals who have fled or have failed to comply with the terms of their release papers. For the past three years, A&E Network has had cameras following the Chapmans on their bounty hunts so us common folk can see what they do & how they do it. As an insomniac, I've enjoyed having something interesting to watch during the late night hours, which thankfully includes many of the Bounty Hunter episodes. I've developed a sincere respect for bounty hunters in general as a result, and a special respect for the Chapman crew.
September 15, the 3 men who captured the rich rapist were arraigned in Honolulu. They were released from jail but must wear electronic monitoring devices & abide by a curfew until further notice. No court date has been set yet to see if our government will honor an extradition request that was suddenly issued by the Mexican government after 3 years of silence. The three men did not return to Mexico back then to answer to charges against them for the bounty hunting they did on Andrew Luster. They were arrested last week, posted bond, and now wait to learn whether they will be extradited to Mexico to answer charges in Mexican court for taking a rapist off the streets.
Dog Chapman is one of those former criminals gone good. He's been on the good side of the law for about 30 years now & his entire family is involved in the business of catching criminals. He always treats his quarry with respect, whether most people would think they deserve it or not. He and his crew do whatever is necessary to catch the defaulting criminal, but then they treat him or her with complete respect. They try to help each one find a reason to become a good citizen. They often feed him/her, offer a cigarette, summon family members for one last hug before they are returned to jail. Some of that sounds ridiculous to people who don't watch the show, but I believe the Chapmans have changed some lives in big ways. By changing those lives, they make the world a little safer for all of us.
Yes, the Chapman bounty hunters are rough around the edges. I'm sure they've offended many people's sensibilities with their rough language at times, and Dog's wife Beth is a particular irritation to many people -- criminals & viewers alike. She's a whole different kind of woman than most of us ever know in our lifetimes -- but she, too, plays a vital role in their mission. This entire group of people is effective *because* they are different than the mainstream public, and they know it.
So why am I extolling the virtues of the bounty hunters at Da Kine Bail Bonds in Hawaii? I don't even live in Hawaii (wish I did sometimes, but I don't), and I'm not the starry-eyed type who idolizes people she sees on TV or in a concert -- so why do they matter to me? Because I'm tired of seeing good people treated like garbage when money talks. The only reason the Mexican government wants to prosecute those bounty hunters is because there's big money involved. They don't care what kind of scum Luster or any other criminal might be: they only care about economic impact. The Mexican justice system has long been known for its corruption, to the point that many Americans won't even visit Mexico for fear of being jailed on some trumped-up charges. If a Mexican government official smells American dollars, he wants what he believes is his "fair share." That's a generalization, although I'm sure there are some honorable Mexican officials. Unfortunately, they appear to be in the minority.
Andrew Luster's fortune is talking to those Mexican officials, in one form or another. There's no way for the officials to justify their attempts to put the Chapmans away: all the bounty hunters are guilty of is making the streets of Puerta Vallarta (and everywhere else) a whole lot safer by taking a rapist off the streets. No matter how you slice it, catching a convicted rapist so he can be locked away is definitely a good thing. It can't be construed any other way. If our government agrees to extradition of those three men, there is something seriously wrong with our system.
A vacation in Mexico is less expensive than one in Hawaii & therefore more attractive to many Americans, including myself, but I've decided not to spend any more of my money in Mexico. I'll just have to save up a little more for another visit to fabulous Hawaii. I refuse to provide economic support to a government so corrupt that it attempts to penalize people who make it safer. And with this recent reminder about Mexican policies, I wouldn't feel safe in Mexico again anyway. Not that I ever did actually feel safe there, of course, but I turned a blind eye to what I knew was going on. It seemed worth the risk to have an inexpensive vacation. Now it doesn't.
Will anyone join me in boycotting Mexico? They need American dollars. This is a great chance to have an impact. Just imagine the impact if there were no American tourists in Mexico for a year...