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Welcome to Oregon: Haven for Bail Jumpers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Read the article, "Welcome to Oregon: Haven for bail jumpers" released by The Portland Tribune. It discusses Oregon’s restrictions that keep bounty hunters from stalking bonded prey.

The way David Regan remembers the day — and he remembers it well even 10 years later — it was finally time for him to capture Kurzell Wilson.

Regan is a Vancouver, Wash., bail bondsmen and he had bailed Wilson out of Clark County Jail.

The deal was straightforward. Wilson’s bail on a charge of violating a domestic violence protection order was $2,000. Wilson gave Regan 10 percent — $200 — and Regan would guarantee the rest. When Wilson didn’t show up for trial, Reagan had a month to bring him in to court or be out the $1,800. That’s bad business, and that’s why Reagan was tracking Wilson in his car all afternoon.

Regan had information from Wilson’s family and friends that Wilson was spending most of his time in Portland, across the state border, and for good reason.

Oregon is one of four states in the U.S. that don’t allow bail bondsmen and bounty hunters. All the states surrounding Oregon allow bondsmen. The contracts that clients sign in order to get bailed out of jail allow bondsmen incredible latitude in trying to capture and return clients who fail to appear. Basically, bondsmen can break down doors, physically assault and kidnap clients who have skipped. But not in Oregon — which made Portland the ideal place for Wilson to take refuge.

According to Regan, he was following Wilson by car, waiting for the moment that Wilson crossed the state line to visit family back in Vancouver.

Close to sunset, Wilson’s car began heading north on the Interstate 205 bridge. But as it did so, Regan noticed Wilson in the back seat pointing back at the bondsman’s car. He’d been made.

Once across the bridge Wilson’s car pulled to the shoulder. Wilson jumped out, Reagan says, and began running back toward the Oregon side of the bridge. Regan took up the chase. They had a short fist fight and Regan Tasered Wilson. But the Taser didn’t work and Wilson continued running toward the Oregon border.

He ran across I-205 traffic and Regan wasn’t willing to do that. The two ran side by side until Wilson reached the sign that said, “Welcome To Oregon.” And that, according to Regan, was the last time he saw Kurzell Wilson.

But it wasn’t the last time Regan talked with Wilson. Later, he called Wilson in Oregon.

“Kurzell said over the phone, ‘I know you can’t come and get me.’ ” Regan says.

Regan paid the court the outstanding $1,800 bail. According to Clark County court officials, Wilson never stood trial on his charge.

Wilson has been involved with criminal justice since then, however. After that incident 10 years ago, Wilson has been the subject of police inquiries 16 times — all in Oregon.

In theory, those inquiries by Portland police should have turned up Wilson’s outstanding Clark County warrants, and led to his being shuttled over there for trial. But that hasn’t happened. In fact, court officials in Vancouver say Wilson’s arrest warrant, though still outstanding, has been destroyed. So no matter what Wilson does in the future, his name won’t show up as being wanted in Vancouver on his old charge.

Click on the following link to read the rest of the article, Welcome to Oregon: Haven for bail jumpers by Peter Korn of The Portland Tribune.