Dog the Bounty Hunter
By Jeff Ayers — / Fueled by Death Cast
Dog The Bounty Hunter joins the show to tell the story of how he became a bounty hunter. You can learn even more in his best selling book 'You Can Run But You Can't Hide' (written by Laura Morton - listen to her episode here.) Dog also talks about becoming a reality TV star with his wife Beth and fighting for what he believes in. Mike Donovan of Nexus Services, Inc. also joins the show and the two discuss their current fight for bail reform change in America. Also, Dog and Beth have their own podcast on Podcast One - Dog and Beth Looking For Trouble.
Full episode transcript below
Watch exclusive video from the episode:
Jeff: Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us today. I just wanted to start out by talking a little bit about your career, and what got you to this point. I've always wanted to actually ask you this question. How does one get into bounty hunting?
Dustin: Asking for a friend.
Dog: Don't try it.
Jeff: Don't try it. Was it something that you kind of fell into, or was it a conscious choice? How did you get your life to the point where I'm going to be a bounty hunter?
Dog: Fast story, you can get the rest on the book You Can Run But You Can't Hide. Number one New York Time Best Seller.
Jeff: Oh yeah.
Dustin: Written by our friend, Laura Morton.
Dog: Written by our friend, Laura Morton, conducted by Dog Chapman.
Jeff: Oh heck yeah.
Dog: I was in prison in the 70s in Texas, and I was always supposed to, through my family, have been the guy who made it, and the guy who helped change the world. While I was in prison, I was wondering how is this now going to happen? The only thing I was going to change is my social security number to my prison number.
One day I was extremely lucky to get the most prestigious job ... My language is ... In prison was the warden's barber because no one messed with the warden's barber because he cut the warden's hair and the guard's hair. There was 38,000 inmates in my particular farm, and each weekend was visiting day. Of course, mostly women came to visit their husbands, so the guards and the warden had to look A-AA sharp. I was insulated by you hurt me, you've got a problem. He got to use real after shave.
He got to wear starch whites, where he looked different than anyone else. I applied for the job, got it, had a hard time really getting it because I hadn't cut my hair since I was three. One day, the prison barber shop, if you've ever seen Gun Smoke, you're both too young, but ...
Jeff: I've seen it. Oh yeah.
Dog: It was just like that barber shop, where they tied the horses up to the rail, and let's go like we're back in the 30s because that's how that was ran. It was outside the prison gate, literally. The walls were here, and then I was a block away. I could see the prison, but it felt like I wasn't really there.
Dog: Across the street from my barber shop was the hole. If you killed another inmate, if your parent died, if you had rabbit, all of a sudden you were looking at cracks, and looking all around, they'd go, "Come here," and they would actually arrest you, and put you in the hole. It was a hole with a thing in the middle, and the sand was painted on the bottom. You came out with all these sores and stuff.
Jeff: Oh my God.
Dog: It's kind of like, have you ever seen the movie Cool Hand Luke?
Dog: It was exactly, that was the hole.
Jeff: Oh wow.
Dog: I looked out one day, and they were taking one of my ... I was also inmate counselor.
Dustin: And barber.
Dog: And barber. I was warden's barber, but inmate counselor, so when someone needed counseling, or their parent died, or something happened, the warden would come to me and say, "Go to the hole, and talk to this guy or that guy." One of my counselees was being marched to the hole, and I knew because his mother had just died. His name was Bigfoot, and he had a size 18, 19 Brogan. We had to order special boots for him. Big, big kid.
Dog: As I watch him go in, he started to go in, and punched a guard, and took off running down the road. This is a long road in Richmond, Texas. I seen the guards on the towers, chic, chic, I could hear the guns, and they're like, "Freeze. Freeze." All of a sudden I took out after him. I didn't know what I was doing. I just had to save Davey's life.
I ran up and tackled him from behind, and of course, he went down kaboom, hard. Right behind me I could hear someone breathing because they were yelling, "Freeze, Dog. Dog, we're talking to you. Freeze." I actually could feel the bullets hitting my back, and I thought, "I'm going to die for this guy, [soria 00:04:05]. The lieutenant ran up behind me, threw these handcuffs down in the dust as we both laid there, and he said, "Hook him up, bounty hunter."
I was like, "Whoa." I went to the cell. The warden said, "Listen, we're going to have to ship you because you ran another inmate down. We're going to have to send you to a different farm where cops and stuff are." I said, "Why?" "Boy, they're going to get you." I said, "Warden, I saved a man's life." "Well, he's a black." I said, "I don't care. I'm half Apache, warden. I can make it." He said, "If you're alive in the morning, we'll let you stay."
In the morning about 7:00 they woke me up, and they said, "Warden wants to see you." I thought, "Oh good." The warden said, "Do you realize outside your cell ..." I don't know why I'm so emotional today, but "Outside your cell was coffee, cigarettes, candy bars, stamps." He said, "Son, they done give you a love offering." I said, "Really?" He said, "By the way, you can stay."
February 6, 1979, he walked up to me, or February 5th, and he said, "Guess what?" I said, "What?" He said, "You're going home tomorrow, boy." I said, "I'm not even due." He said, "Your sheriff called from Pampa, Texas, and I told him a story about you and the da da da, and he said, 'You let Dog out of there.'" With my surprise, February 6th, I walk out, and there was a preacher with $200.
Then I went to my mom's, and my father was not very nice to me my whole life, but I had to go back there because I left Texas. I had to parole out of somewhere. In our rehabilitation programs, we make sure they're out of their element, and start them over, rebuild them.
Dustin: Get them out of their comfort zone.
Dog: Yeah. I knew if I go back to the Hell's Angels to Texas, I'll be right back here. I've got to leave. I went to the post office and got the top 10. I said, "Hi, I'm a bounty hunter." They're like, "Wow." They ordered my badge, and the cop said, "What's your number?" I said, "271097." They put that, and that was my prison number. They still wear it on my badge today. They put that on there, and I got a badge, and I went in and I said, "Hi, I'm a bounty hunter. Can I have your top 10?"
The post office ...
Mike Donovan: Master.
Dog: Master General said, "Sure." Gave me an envelope, little envelope with all the mug shots and all the little things in it. About a week or so, wham, I got the first one. On the bottom it said, "$10,000 reward." I got my mom and said, "Mom, I got him." She's like, "Good, let's go get our money." I went to the federal building on 13th and Stout in Colorado, 13th floor by the way, and went up there and I pinned it with a safety pin, his warrant, you know that little thing, most wanted.
I pinned it to him. Got through all the stuff, went in and I said, "Yeah, I need to see who writes your checks." They're like, forget the President back then, but I said, "This guy here's wanted." "Who is he? I go, "He's right there." They looked at him, "Oh, and who are you?" I said, "I'm Dog, the bounty hunter." "Okay."
They took my prisoner. My mom was sitting there. They said, "Come back tomorrow, we'll give you a check. We don't have it right now." I said, "Mom." She goes, "Honey, it's the federal government. It's all right." We went back the next day and got 10 grand. Then about three weeks later, I got another one. I said, "Mom ..." She's like, "Let's see if we can get 12." We went up, and the guy said, "Hey, stop. What are you doing?" I said, "Well, there's a Citizen's Right to Arrest Law." They got, "Yeah, we know, but this is like embarrassing us."
Jeff: Yeah, you're doing a good job at that.
Dog: Yeah, how do you do this?
Dustin: Do you think you were getting lucky or you had a natural talent for it maybe?
Dog: Exactly. A natural talent.
Dustin: What do you think is it that made you excel at chasing down criminals, and getting them to where you need them to be?
Dog: Well, I had a lot of children. I started at 15. In America, it's against the law to starve babies, so I had to work hard to feed those kids. I always married women of the ... I always liked whores. I married one now, Beth's a fake whore. My other ones are real whores, so I won custody of all the kids. At one time I had 6 kids, me, and, of course, a girlfriend, a couple as we went.
I just had to make money because these kids eat like you wouldn't believe. I boxed until 1991, professionally. My coach said, "Listen, are you ever going to get mad?" I go, "Yeah." Third or fourth round I get mad. He's like, "What do you like about this?" I said, "They scream my name. Dog, Dog, Dog." He said, "I just love that part."
The fighting was okay. I wanted to go pick the guy up after I knocked him out, right, or give him smelling salt, and get him back, but the screaming, the crowd, the whole ...
Jeff: The lights.
Dog: "We love you, Dog." The lights, the glory, the fame. I'm sorry. They interviewed my best friend the other day, from the second grade, and they said, "What about Dog is there that we don't know?" He said, "Dog's been a legend in his own mind since we were three." I don't mean to be like that, but that's how I am. That's why. I just love to do it.
I like to be able to talk to the guy, and a lot of times you know, "I'm in trouble, man. This is a burglary charge. My life is over." I used to tilt my rear view mirror and say, "Hey, I know this guy, bra, who was convicted of murder, and he didn't really do it. He was in a gang fight. While he sat in the car, this shooting happened inside the house, and this gang member came out and said, 'I shot somebody.' We're all like, 'Wow." I said, "All of them went to prison. This guy never did nothing, and today he carries a badge. He's a nice guy. He's got a conscience, they call it."
Almost every one, as they walk away, they'd go, "Hey, that guy is you, ain't it?" I'd go, "Now you see? That burglary charge, just get it over. Plead innocent or whatever, and get by this, and you'll be able to make it." I realized right then wow, this is working because I'd get calls, like a month ago. It's from Bosco, and he said, "Dog, you know brother, you ruined my life of crime. Dog, what the hell? I get two jobs, brother. I'm working every day, had a Twinkie, I had sex, I slept." He said, "Man, this world you're from is all right."
When you get that kind of stuff, why do I go, and why do you enter that house when you know he might have a gun? Besides a prayer at the door, you think of those thoughts, and boom, you just go in.
Dustin: Do you think you had a natural affinity to it because you were there once? You can put yourself in the shoes of the criminal?
Dog: Yes, as far as the attitude why. Okay now today, they got so ... We got drones, they got ... There is so much stuff that I'm learning. Slinging is not a slingshot, it's selling dope on the corner. I have kids from 16 to older, so they can help me decipher what this stuff means, but once you get to doing something like that, it becomes natural. It's just a natural thing.
Dustin: Going through the motions.
Mike Donovan: I think it also requires the perspective. When Dog goes out, and I think when a lot of bail enforcement agents go out and to the work that they do, a lot of them have the intent of actually helping heal the person that they're dealing with. A lot of that healing comes from understanding the law, and really getting it, because if you've never been in trouble, if you've never been wanted, you sort of conceptualize what that might be like, but you can't really know what it's like.
That hopelessness that a person feels when they feel like they've ran as far and as fast as they can, that reality's going to catch up to them one day. If you can make that reality catch up to them where they're safe, where they've got hope. Hope is the most important commodity we have.
Dustin: Kind of give them a way out.
Mike Donovan: It's a way up. It's a way to stop. To stop that fall that can feel like it'll go on forever until it kills them.
Mike Donovan: You actually are able to give people the opportunity to step up, and that's incredible because that kind of accountability is what makes things better. People make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. The only difference between a felon who's convicted, and a non-convicted felon is that the non-convicted felon didn't get caught, right?
We've all had issues, but some of us fall harder than others. We need people out there that can lift people back up.
Jeff: That is totally true. Fast forwarding a little bit, you get into the bounty hunting game, and you're starting to do a lot of good. Then you're approached in the early 2000s, by A & E, for a reality television show. Reality television was becoming, you know, this big juggernaut at that time. When that was posed to you, were you guys on board right from the beginning, or was that something that you kind of had to like ease yourself into because It must have been different?
Dog: Well, there was one reality show, it really wasn't called that, there was one. It was Ozzy and Sharon.
Dustin: Right. Right, yeah.
Dog: Tony Robbins, I worked for from 89 until 91, and I was a guest speaker. I met Martin Sheen, and I met a lot of people, but Martin Sheen was ... He said, "You got to get on television."
Dustin: Yeah, he was right.
Dog: What do you for a living, and what did you tell that guy? I'd be walking down, and he's got this same talent, and we're walking, and we're like, "Yep." They guy's like ... I'm like, "You want it?" "Yeah. Shit, good thing I'm off-duty." "Oh Dog, ..." and they spill their beans to us, right?
Dustin: Right, right.
Dog: With that, you become who you hang around with. Birds of a feather flock together, all those sayings. I started hanging around with talented people in Hollywood, and then I just was like, "Wow, I want to get on television." Then Beth took lessons from Sharon Osborne because she was Ozzy's manager. We'd listen to her, Beth did, and listen to what it was doing, or what she did to be a successful.
Then we tried it, and we first started filming like the red light on the camera, we first started filming, and the first show ever, the guy ... You're not going to believe this. My last name's Chapman, and it wasn't ... None of it's set up at all, because they'll sue you.
Dustin: Oh totally.
Dog: His name was Chapman. I'm like, "Oh, let's get this sucker, right?" We caught him. We pull in the store, and I'd look back, again in the rear view mirror, and I go, tears in his eyes, "Dog, you know my foot's cut when I was running from you, brother." I said, "Oh, bad?" I looked, I'm like, "Oh, shoot. That's a cut." I told them, "Okay, turn the camera off." They're like, "What?" I'm like, "Turn the camera off now."
They go, "All right." Click. I said, "Chapman, you want something to eat?" He's like, "Yeah, I'm starving, Dog." Beth, McDonald's, and tape, and putting Band-Aids on the cut, and fixing him up. Then I gave him the talk. "You're a Chapman, bra. You're going to come out of this. You've got something blah, blah, blah," right? We get him by the jail. Like, "Okay, turn the cameras on." I'm like, "All right, you punk, you better straighten up."
He's like, "All right, Dog." He was there too. We shut off the cameras. The first time we saw Dog, The Bounty Hunter ever, 2003, we were here, and it's called ... What do they call it when they ...
Dog: Yeah, but when they show you the show before ...
Jeff: The premiere.
Dog: The premiere.
Dustin: The premiere, right.
Dog: At this great big, huge building, the premiere, right? It was an hour show, so the first half hour was us catching Chapman. I thought the second half hour was going to be the next guy, right?
Dog: All of a sudden, the show's rolling, and they go ... Chapman says ... I go, "What's the matter?" He goes, "My foot's cut." I know you didn't hear me say, "Shut the cameras off." Beth's like, "We need to get him something to eat." I'm like ... I looked at her, I'm like ... She goes ... Like that. "Our career is over." I thought the Christians, and the Jewish people, there's scripture that we all know, "Do not throw your pearls before the swine."
I thought, "You know, I know people, and all they want to do is throw them away. They don't want you to fix them." I thought, "Oh no, our show, we're done." So did she. She's like, "Wow, a great 20 minutes, right?" The show was over, and we sat there, right? I was like, "Fuck, I'm sorry, baby." It's like Bruce Lee. Have you ever seen that, Enter The Dragon?
Dustin: Oh yeah.
Dog: All of a sudden ...
Jeff: That's my life.
Dustin: Yep. Yep.
Dog: ... then the whole crowd, right? So I said, Bruce Lee was my hero, right? I stand up, and bow, and she's pulling at my pants to sit down. She still does that, by the way. Not pulls my pants, now my hair. "Sit down. Shut up. They know who you are." I just felt so good. Then we did group sessions where I say, "Now, ..." I'm signing book signings, right, and I go, a lot of people come up, and I say, "Okay, ..." because I have all the fans that I want right there's attention. "What part of the show do you like the best?"
They're like, "We like Beth, and Leland." Oh thanks. They're like, okay. Then I say, "What part do you like?" The Marines, the first few, "We like the take down." It was quiet then. I thought, "Well, there's 10 guys out of a thousand." Then I go, "Well, what part do you like?" They're like, "The redemption." I'm like, "Oh my God. Are they really serious?"
Then everyone was like redeem, redeem, redeem, redemption. Now, in walks Mike. I tried to meet Tony Robbins my whole life. I loved him so much. He was very clear, very articulate, very led by God, right? Christian, kind of yet, you know ... You've got to watch him because he's very smart. I prayed for many years for a guy like Tony Robbins. Tony got so rich and smart that once in a while he calls me.
No, but I need that guidance. Then I met Mike, and he's a lot like Tony Robbins, and he has the same kind of love for people. Then I found out what he did for a living. What he does for a real living, is not hang around with me, and we caught radios, but Ed, Fox News, loved you by the way. They're calling me today. No, they love him. Someone is an illegal immigrant, okay?
Mike Donovan: Undocumented.
Dog: Undocumented, sorry.
Mike Donovan: No worries.
Dog: Undocumented immigrant, can we do that word?
Mike Donovan: Yeah, we can do that.
Dog: Words are changing.
Dustin: Yes they are.
Mike Donovan: People, generally speaking, aren't illegal, but I understand what you're saying.
Dog: So he puts an ankle bracelet on him, gets him a lawyer, gives him the test, the American, and fixes him. I'm like, "What?" Then I start meeting ... I was in jail in Mexico, so I know what it is to be in another country in jail, and be treated like caca, right? Pretty soon the guards started loving me, and left the gate open one night. Shoo, I was gone. Anyway, so I was like, "He really does this?" Then he became the largest in the world at doing it.
Then his partner is doing it. Then the crew is, and there's like they say family, [inaudible 00:19:44] down there. I'm like, "Oh my God, it's like my family." I have 12 kids, 11 left. One passed, but I love that family togetherness. You know what I mean? Me being Native American, I like spice of life. I don't like all white, all Indian, all black. I like Asian. I liked all that. He likes it too. I was like, "Wow."
I found another guy that was like me only he's very educated. I made it through high honors, straight As, from the seventh grade. That was it. He went all the way through everything. I partnered with him. He's kind of like the boss. I don't work for him, but I hang around him [crosstalk 00:20:29].
Mike Donovan: Beth, I think is the boss.
Dog: On his little desk, on his big desk, I looked the other day and it said same as Tony Robbins, and it said, "CEO," and I cried. I went in the bathroom and cried, because that's what Tony Robbins said. I asked the Lord, I've got to have another Tony in my life because like I said, he's so busy, now, healing everybody that, "Oh you're healed. Go on." That enters Mike Donovan.
Jeff: I can't even imagine the ripple effect of what you're doing. You're helping that one person, but that one person will then go on to help other people. If you've helped 50 people, you've probably helped 500 easy.
Mike Donovan: That's exactly right, and it's not dissimilar to what Dog does, and has done forever, long before he was a famous bounty hunter, as you indicated you were famous in your own mind anyway.
Dog: Right. Thanks, brother.
Mike Donovan: No, it's a testament to your success, that you made it, and that you became what you became, which is an icon, really. The reality is that everybody that does this work, while the bail bond industry certainly has its share of unique players, with sometimes big egos, and big personalities, but the reality is that they're all similarly situated in understanding that they want to help folks.
In our organization, we, in addition to being the largest provider of GPS devices in the world direct, when we decided that we were going to do this, we actually decided we were going to market our product and service, not to governments and jails, but to actual people who needed the service.
Mike Donovan: When we started, everyone said, "This is bizarre. Who wants to wear an ankle bracelet? No one's going to want to do that. That doesn't make any sense." Since then, we've helped over 25,000 people. We run the largest charitable bonding program where we help folks to can't afford to pay their bail. We help immigrants who can't afford to pay huge collateral, huge cash to the government.
It's incredibly rewarding to see those people come out, make their court dates, get status, get a Green Card, go on the pathway to citizenship. It's really incredible.
Jeff: That is incredible. One thing that we always come to at this podcast, Dog, is this inherent question, and I want to pose it to you like this. You have, in your entire career, before you were a bounty hunter even, you've always been willing to put yourself out there, and to fight for what you believe in, and what's right. You've hit opposition. You've hit obstacles. You've hit, you know, two steps forward, one step back.
Jeff: What fuels you to keep getting out there, and keep fighting, keep bringing the fight to where you believe it needs to go?
Dog: I hate to keep referencing this, but I never saw anyone treated like pigs like in prison. In the 70s, maybe it's changed ...
Dustin: Probably not.
Dog: ... now, but it was mostly black, and you could imagine the words. I said the word too, because I had a pass to say it. My pass expired, and no one told me that. I saw things that I'm like, "That's a man." I saw big men, big, huge men, sit down and cry. I saw them guards treat some of them like they're first ones in hell, let me tell you.
I thought, "You know what? I'm going to get a badge, and I'm going to treat these guys like they should be treated." Now, there's certain things, like sexual assault on a child, and all that, I roll down the window, and turn on the heat as high as I can go, and drive them to jail sweating. There's certain things that I cannot deal with, but like I said ... Then I found out there was someone else doing this also.
Now, he's got like 8,000 clients at a time. Plus, helping about 50,000 so far, so I was like, "Wow," because the local boys that break the law, they know better than that, but a lot of people come from other countries. You know that Statue of Liberty you guys have out here? You know, "We'll take you on, your wounded, your broken hearted."
Bologna, that don't mean that no more, but to this guy, it does, and to me, it really does. When they get well, and like he said, the Green Card, when I get parole papers, you know, I'm like, "Wow." When they call me and say, "I did it, man." You'd be surprised how many people I've heard come up to him and go, he's got a lot of them working for him. :If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here, Dog. He did this. He did that."
Then they come up to me and say, "Dog, if it wasn't for that ... You remember this show?" I try to remember it. "That's the one that did it. From that second on, I changed my life." If there's a God, we've all got to get in front of him naked, and he goes through the videos. I want to show you something. He got a lot on the other side for me.
I'm going to tell him, and I tell him every day, "I hope there's enough on this side where at least I can hold the door open in Heaven, on the inside of the door, for everyone else," because I really think there's a God. Especially as you get this age, you start, "Well, you know there may just be judgment." I think about that also, that I'd like to do this. I still, it's terrible to say, and I've reaped this before my saying it. When I see an armored car, bra, I still look to see how many drivers there are.
When I walk in a bank, I still look for the cameras. I mean, it's just ... The Bible says that, "It's common unto man." A heroin addict asked me the other day, he quit heroin, and he's like, "When will the feeling go away, Dog?" I go, "It never will."
Dustin: It never will, yeah.
Dog: You're always going to want it. In everything in crime, or something illegal, and that's what both of us deal with is the Devil's herd, but you don't, but your guys are ...
Mike Donovan: From time to time.
Dog: Your guys are all innocent.
Mike Donovan: I think they are.
Dog: It just helps when they make it, and then, of course, when they tell you if it wasn't for you. When they get out ... this is crazy okay? When he gets them out of jail, he gives them a little packet, right? A sack, a satchel, and there is a ...
Mike Donovan: And a great dinner.
Dog: And a lawyer.
Mike Donovan: Yeah.
Dog: You hear what I said? And a lawyer.
Mike Donovan: And a lawyer, yeah.
Dog: And a shaving kit, and a little Bible, and what else is in there?
Mike Donovan: Oh yeah, you've got toiletries, you've got a cell phone. We give them SmartPHones when they come out so they can be in touch with their families.
Dustin: That's so awesome.
Mike Donovan: Of course, it's 2017, so ...
Dustin: Just kind of give them an equal playing field.
Mike Donovan: That's exactly right. Equalize, because that's the thing. Dog had his experience. I went to jail when I was 19 years old, and spent seven months. Nothing like what he went through. I was in a local, county jail, but it still was rough and I learned. I walked into that jail, 76 men were in the pod that I came in. I can't even imagine 30,000. 76 men were in the unit that I lived in, and 74 of them were black. There were two white guys.
We are the leading incarcerator of people in the world, and we incarcerate African Americans at several times the rate of Whites in this country. We haven't really gotten over the systems of racism and oppression that have haunted us from the beginning of our democracy. It's people that are willing to get out there and get dirty, for lack of a better word, to help people out of it that make the difference.
No government program, no let piece of legislation, no crime bill, no welfare bill is going to do that. You've got to change people's perspective. You've got to give people the opportunity to believe in themselves, and in order to do that, you've got to let them run to the end of the chain, right? You've got to let them be like, "Look, this life that you're living right now, it doesn't work."
I could tell you that, but if you aren't going to listen to me, then what's my point? You need to see it, and then when you see it, and experience it, there's somebody that says, "Okay, now let's get better." That's what we're missing. That's what we're missing with building jails and prisons. It's what we're missing when we put people on probation before they've ever been convicted of a crime.
These are the types of things, the ideas of reducing jail populations, actually increase them in the long run because they don't do anything to actually solve the human problem. You've got to understand where people are, and you've got to give them an opportunity to come back. You've got to walk with them. You know what really ... How many times have you worked with somebody that just over, and over again, failed, and you're like, "I refuse to give up on you," right?
You may put them in jail a couple times, and you get them back out again because they promised they're going to be better, and then every single time they get closer, and then they're bam, back in there. You hold them accountable, but you don't give up on them? There has to be somebody that's willing to walk with a person, and not give up on them. That's the secret to solving this problem.
No government agency can do that. It's people helping people. It's got to be, it's macro level human interaction. Until we learn that lesson, we're going to continue to incarcerate more people. Land of the free? Right. It's a joke at this point. It's not a politician that's going to fix it. It's each of us understanding that you know what? I can't live with myself knowing that 13% of our national population is 60% of our prison population. In New Jersey, it's even worse.
I can't live with myself knowing that we mistreat people in custody, as the largest incarcerated people. I can't live with myself knowing I'm an American, and that we incarcerate more people per capita than North Korea, right? It's going to take all of us sort of figuring out that there's a better way, but that none of us are absolved from the responsibility of fixing it. We're brothers and sisters together. We've got to help. We've got to reach out, and lift people up.
That's the coolest thing about Dog, I think, is that's his life mission, so people that see him, and honor his work, maybe they'll be inspired to do it. Not necessarily go be a bounty hunter, but just reach out and say, "You know what? I'm going to help people in my community, in my family, that are struggling, and I'm not going to let them go. I'm not going to give up on them. I'm going to be there to try to help make it better."
Dustin: I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "You hold them accountable, but you don't give up." I think I'm learning something from that at this very instant, and I think that's where, maybe, I've gone wrong in the past where somebody's wronged me in some way, and I've just written them off, but I think I've done them an injustice with not confronting them ...
Dog: Now you see why I hang around with this guy, right?
Mike Donovan: Listen, I want to tell ...
Dog: No, bra, see?
Dustin: I got chills.
Mike Donovan: I want to tell you about a guy real quick. This guy, Andrew, you know who he is.
Dog: Oh yeah. I was just going to bring this up because you know who's sitting right there, [crosstalk 00:31:38].
Mike Donovan: We've been working together on Andrew, right? Andrew is a kid I met way back when in jail actually. I don't know if you knew that.
Dog: No, I didn't.
Mike Donovan: The kid is just ... He can't help himself. He's addicted to drugs. The thing that makes him so great, which is that he's so totally full of life, is also the thing that gets him in trouble because he doesn't have the governor that says, "Maybe this part of life I shouldn't do." He's been arrested, I don't know, like two dozen, three dozen times for some not so serious stuff, for more serious stuff too.
Mike Donovan: Every time we get him out, he gets closer and closer to success, and invariably screws up, so he's in jail right now, but he's in jail knowing that we're still here, and we care about him. At the end of the day, his walk is going to be his to walk. I can't change his reality for him, but when he's ready to change it, I can guide him out of the darkness.
As far into the darkness as he is, he can see us waiting on the other side for him to come back. Sometimes people just have to go out. It's like waves in the ocean. Going to go out, come back in, and you can't change it, but you can be ready when they want to change it. The worst thing that I think happens to human beings is when they're ready to make that change, and they're so socially bankrupt, that nobody's there. That's, I think, that point in time when you go from savable, to gone, is when that doesn't happen.
Dog: It's like this, on Instagram, we're all brothers from a different mother, and you look down and she's like, "Wow," and you go, "Two likes." Like, right? You just like it because my wife's like, "Why did you like that girl?"
Jeff: My wife does the same thing.
Dog: I took a picture, thank God, of that one, right? Had one like. Then later on that day, of course, Instagram, Dog The Bounty Hunter hit like, so so did 2,000 other people. I looked, it had 2,200 likes. Beth's like, "Why did you like that girl, because she had ...?"
Dustin: Oh yeah, yeah.
Dog: Well, you know that is the first thing I seen, but that's not why I liked her. "Why?" I said, "Because she only had one like. She's got 2,200 right now." I go, "Look, here's a picture of her with one."
She goes, "That was 11 hours ago." I go, "Yeah, she'd been up nine hours before there was any likes, and when my The Dog Pound saw ..." That's the name of our Twitter, our trenders. What's up Dog Pound? When they saw that, they're like, "Oh, like, like, like, right? Here's another thing that ... Someone else is sitting in the room right now, was counseling him too.
The other day I see him talking on the phone, right? He's made all these, what's the word, distortions in his face. I'm like, "What's going on?" I try to burglarize, once in a while, his conversation, but he's one of those guys that does a spin, and then heads off. Okay, okay, he'll make it. Oh shoot. I thought, "Oh my God, he's like ready to ..." Oops, sorry.
Dustin: That's okay. How appropriate.
Jeff: Guess whose phone that is.
Dustin: I promise it's not my phone.
Dog: I think, "Wow, the guy didn't make it." He had hurt his feelings, and he was ready to cry. I go in the other day to his office, and where's my guy I co-signed for? He made me co-sign for that guy. I'm responsible. I drilled him. As I was looking at him, drilling him, I knew for sure he wasn't going to make it. I asked this other person right there, that counseled him, "Did you know that?" She said, "No, I didn't." I said a prayer to God for her right then. "Give her that knowledge to know when she's talking, if they're going to make it or not."
You just know, but you fight harder when you know he's not because then you put all these words out there that he'll sit alone in that cell, and fish, and get all them words back. The guy that you know is going to make it, you still help, but you know he's made it, so you don't fight as hard for him, or talk to him as much as you do the guy you know is ... but I knew Andrew was going to make it, and I threatened to beat him up, and I said, "No, if you do that, bra, there ain't no camera around. I'm going to jack you up. You got that?" "Yes, Dog."
I thought, "Yeah, you little punk." I thought for sure ... I told him, "You're not going to make it. You're going to run. I know you right now." " I promise I ..." This kid's like great, right? Greatest liar.
Mike Donovan: He's very good.
Dog: Did he run, though, because we haven't talked. Did he run?
Mike Donovan: He turned himself in after about 24 hours. He did the right thing.
Dog: He did run though?
Mike Donovan: Yep.
Dog: I knew he was going ...
Mike Donovan: Stayed out for about 24 hours.
Dog: Did he really? That little punk. I knew he was going to run. I knew he was going to run. She's devastated, my friend right there, because she, that was her favorite. She was counseling, but now, I want to tell her that, and hope she's listening, that whatever she said, it's not what we said, what she said, he's listened to, every day now. Let me tell you, when a woman talks to a man, as we know, we're all men, it's a lot different.
Dustin: It is.
Dog: That you hear that soft little voice now, that's what he's hearing. Maybe this time, like I feel like he does, maybe this time he'll make it because we tried. I tried. You tried. Eh, now let her. Here, give her the client because maybe he'll make it. What we're doing real quick, we don't ...
Mike Donovan: Even if he doesn't, we'll still be there.
Dog: I'll still beat him up. What we're doing now, okay?
Dustin: Yeah, yeah, I wanted to talk ...
Dog: Really quick. Let me ...
Dustin: I wanted to talk about that because I mean we're talking about how you guys are fighting for the people, you know, and that's what's awesome. There's this really important fight that, unfortunately, lots of people don't even know about, which is bail reform in America. You both have some ... They're really trying to bring awareness, and actually make some change, lobby for some change on this. I'd love to hear a little ...
Dog: There's a lot of Dog The Bounty Hunters and Mike Donovans out there. We're just the two coolest in our group.
Dustin: Definitely. Definitely.
Dog: They think, the government, not just the government, but some players in the government, think that there shouldn't be a deterrent. If you're driving down the road 100 miles an hour, and you get a ticket, you shouldn't have to pay a dime. The cop just pulls you over, writes you a ticket, says, "Don't speed." "Okay, is he gone? Whoom." You know? You get a ticket, it cost you $350. You better slow down.
Now they think, that by not having a bail bond, and you getting a ticket, say you show up, they're going to make it.
Dog: No way. Thank God New Jersey, before we got a chance to jump in this pool, New Jersey did it in January. These statistics will, in a minute, tell you. Oh my God what a ... One of his friends, our friend, her little boy got gunned down, 20 shots ...
Mike Donovan: 22 times.
Dog: ... by this guy, 28 charges. Most of them guns and dope.
Mike Donovan: Multiple gun charges.
Dog: They let him out for free. Two days out, he's like what a joke, right? I met a gang banger in Jersey when we went there. I had to pay this ... We pulled up this block. Here's a great place by the court house, right? Me and him's like, "All right." We went in this place, and we knew, this is like the knife and gun club, right, for lunch.
Outside the bangers came, and I said, "Listen, 10 bucks, watch our cars, 12 will do it." I give this guy 12 bucks, protection right? Don't let anybody burglarize our cars. His friend, "Can I get a picture, bra?" I said, "Sure." Boom, we took a picture. He goes, "Looky here." He showed me this slip. It said, "First degree burglary." I'm looking at it, and I have to look at it again. I go, "Who's that?" "Me."
I look at the bottom. It says summons to appear. He goes, "Yeah, you know what you're fighting for? We don't like that." Somebody tried to rape his wife in the ghetto, or in the, Oh, I shouldn't say ghetto, in the hood, and they called the police, and wanted the guy thrown in jail, and he better go to jail, okay?
Mike Donovan: You don't want him coming back around.
Dog: No, even those guys, okay, even those guys want that. Anyway, I look at it, and I said, "Oh, this is the new ..." He goes, "Yeah, that's the new laws. This something?" He's laughing. I go, "This is jacked up." That's when he goes, "Yeah, it's jacked up. Da, da, da." I go, "You better go to court, bra." He's like, "Ah, Dog, they're not serious." I go, "Yeah, they're serious." He goes, "Dog, you see that, brother? It's summons."
They don't have the mind to know, yes it's serious. They don't have the cops to hunt these guys down because almost every state in America has eliminated their fugitive detail because that's your top cops that have experience.
Mike Donovan: They cost a lot of money, yeah.
Dog: It's a 24 hour job. These guys get more overtime than any other place in their department, so they've had to eliminate that across the country. Now, like he said, a very good point, when you're wanted, I've been wanted. It's a different world. You're watching every ... "Oh it's a cop." You're watching every person, every thing, and today's ...
Now, when I was wanted, their guns weren't as predominant as they are now, and I still had one, but today, they pack. The first thing they do is get their comb, second thing is put a pistol in their pocket.
Mike Donovan: You have to understand, if you live in this reality where if you get pulled over, it's all over, which is one of the reasons why I can appreciate and understand the immigrant population, the undocumented population because they have that experience without being wanted for a criminal offense, just because they don't have papers ...
Dog: Oh, you're right. That's good.
Mike Donovan: That's always in my head. One of the things I wanted to say, because I think it's really important for your listeners to understand, bail reform is a lie, okay? It's a red herring. We have a rich history in this country of good people putting good energy behind really bad ideas. We have a problem with incarceration in this country, and no one, no one is going to speak more passionately about over incarceration than me.
The people that drive over incarceration in our country are bureaucrats who've had their budgets with more people incarcerated, departments of correction that pad their budgets, and they charge hundreds of millions of dollars a year, private prison companies that make money off of the people that are in their jails, private prison phone companies, and commissary companies.
There's billions and billions of dollars in the incarceration of people. We have, since 1972, went from 14th in the world to number one in the world in the number of people we incarcerate per capita. It's been big business. The people that make the money off of incarcerating people ...
Jeff: Are privatized.
Mike Donovan: They're looking for a way out because they know that the American people are tired of over incarceration. They have pulled the wool over the eyes. These people make huge contributions to politicians all over the [crosstalk 00:43:08].
Dustin: It's weird to see a privatized prison union lobby for like against marijuana reform.
Mike Donovan: Right.
Jeff: where it's like ...
Mike Donovan: They want to keep those people in jail.
Mike Donovan: Financially incentivized. They know that by the time the person gets convicted, there's no sentencing reform happening, right? Bail reform is not sentencing reform. They say, "You know what? Let's hang those private industry, surity industry, out to dry, so that we can protect our dominion." The money that funds these bail reform initiatives, comes from private prisons.
Mike Donovan: How interesting is that? Because they don't want to be on the chopping block. I've never met a bail bondsman who made money by keeping someone in jail. In fact, it's absolutely the opposite, but I've met plenty of private prison CEOs, and vice-presidents, and plenty of bureaucrats who make money based on the number of people who are incarcerated.
I say, as I see people who sort of drum up this idea, this fervor of like bail reform, we need to reduce incarceration rates. We need to get poor people out of jail. We need to reduce the minority population rates. All these things are true.
Bail reform will absolutely not do that. What bail reform will do is take a short window of time, where we're trying to figure out how dangerous a person is, and dump those people into communities where disproportionately minority folks will be impacted. Then at the end, the fat cats in the prison, private prison lobbyists, still get their money.
It's a red herring. No one is saying it. It's extraordinarily frustrating because where there's enough money, you can buy a political message. You can buy an idea and sell it. That's one of the things we're doing. It's like we're going to call BS on this because if we don't, then these guys are going to continue getting away with selling out whole generations of people.
It's a statistical impossibility that by the age of 16, a young African American man hasn't had a negative interaction with the police. We've gutted African American communities, taken dads out of homes. We've made it, not only an absolute assurance, but a popularity or a coming of age to go to jail in certain communities. All of that's tethered, not to the bail industry, it's tethered to the people who are making money incarcerating people.
Those guys, they've got to go. They've got to be held accountable because they're pumping money into making you think that people like Dog are the problem. People like Dog are the solution. The people that make money on the backs of inmates, slaves.
Jeff: I was about to say, it's slavery. It's foreign slavery.
Mike Donovan: The 13th Amendment prohibited slavery in all cases except convicts. We still have slavery.
Jeff: They found a loophole.
Mike Donovan: That's exactly right.
Jeff: They found a loophole and they're exploiting it.
Dog: That's very good because he made a point the other day, again I'm still hanging around with this guy.
Dustin: Yeah, yeah totally.
Dog: This is a guinea pig.
Dustin: That's right.
Dog: This is crash car dummies, so let's find a state that leads the nation. Tell him the statistics. Watch this.
Mike Donovan: Yeah, 12 times. In New Jersey, they incarcerate black people 12 times that of whites. New Jersey incarcerates more black people than white people than Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia ...
Dog: The southern states.
Mike Donovan: New Jersey is the worst. Absolute worst performing state in the country. More black people are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system in New Jersey than any other state, so isn't it interesting that this wholesale bail reform was first tried in New Jersey, where African Americans would be more disproportionately affected, and that's happening, and the communities are being impacted and decimated.
It's sort of like the Tuskegee experiment. Our government hasn't stopped experimenting on communities of color, but damn it, it needs to. We have to stand up and say, "We simply aren't going to tolerate this anymore." If we don't stand up to it, if we don't get a grounds fall of people to understand, we're being lied to. This is a con of the highest order.
If we don't stop it now, it will get too big for us to stop. We're sort of on the waning edge of being able to do something about this. They've sold us down the river. This land of the free, is land of the incarcerated. We have to change it, and the people that are pulling the strings, are the people making tons of money, billions of dollars, off of incarcerating people. That's not bail bondsmen.
That's private prison under us. That's bureaucrats. We have to change our way of thinking, but for the love of God, we don't need to take the people who are actually helping people up, and out of holes in their lives out of the picture. That would seem to just further their initiative to ensure that more people take up their rented jail beds.
Jeff: Man, that's incredible. What can someone like Dustin or myself do to help this cause, or our listeners at large?
Mike Donovan: Yeah, there's a couple things. One is pay attention. Bail reform is coming to your state. It's so well-funded that it is coming. Pay attention.
Jeff: It's scary. It's scary.
Mike Donovan: Get involved, talk to your legislators, absolutely. I think that, and that's incredibly important. I don't care where you live. Call Chris Christie in New Jersey, and tell him what a pompous ass he is, right?
Dog: No, don't do that.
Mike Donovan: I mean that's fine. No, absolutely.
Dog: You get arrested for threatening the government.
Mike Donovan: No, you don't threaten him. Just tell him he's an idiot. Did you see him yelling at that fan at the Mets game?
Jeff: I did see that.
Mike Donovan: The only thing he had control of is the nachos that were in his hand. Had no control over his own behavior, no control over his state, no control over his criminal justice system, but he wasn't going to drop those nachos. This guy is out of control, just like his state is out of control.
Pay attention because that's going to come to your state too. Bureaucrats, politicians selling their souls to the highest bidder, and the highest bidder are the people that are paying to keep people incarcerated. Pay attention. Find Dog the bounty hunter online. You'll be able to see his wife, Beth, is the president of the Bail Agents Association. They put out information about where these fights are happening.
Then the other thing is, and I think this is very important, get involved in the lives of people who are impacted by the criminal justice system. If you want to change the criminal justice system, change it by the people who are fodder for it. Get involved in the lives of people who are impacted. Mentor someone. Be a Big Brother. See the pipeline, and stop it. Run for office.
Kids, go to law school. Become great defense attorneys, or become great prosecutors with hearts that don't want to put everybody in jail.
Dustin: The better yourselves, the better the people around you and your community folks.
Mike Donovan: Understand that you're not an island. None of us live on an island. Dog lives on an island, but conceptually, no one lives on an island. Everybody is impacted by everybody else, just as you said. You've got to understand you're important part of the world.
There's two things, one, every single person that lives in the world, has inherent worth and dignity bestowed by something bigger than us, whether you believe in God or the universe, or you're not sure, you don't believe in anything at all, still, there is something that pulls us together and makes us worthy. Then there is an interdependent web of existence of which we're all a part.
Mike Donovan: We have to be the change we seek in the world, and in the communities around us. You have to hold people up, and lift people up to make a difference.
Jeff: Wow, that was amazing.
Dustin: I'm inspired 100%. I can't thank you guys enough for taking time to tell us [crosstalk 00:50:37]
Dog: Oh, you're very welcome.
Dustin: ... to tell us about this stuff.
Jeff: That went by so quick I feel like.
Dog: Now, how do they get ahold of you? You want his stuff?
Dustin: Yeah, please.
Dog: Don't tell them to call me. I've got enough calls.
Mike Donovan: Call Dog. Absolutely call Dog.
Jeff: You're easy to find. Dog The Bounty Hunter, all over all the different social media.
Mike Donovan: You can go to nexushelps.com, N-E-X-U-S-H-E-L-P-S.com. One of the things we have is we have a law firm that we find, and it's sort of like a private attorney general. If your rights are abused by any government in the United States, any local, state, federal government, we'll sue on your behalf. We have attorneys that act as sort of private attorney generals that protect the constitutional rights of anybody.
Toll free you can call 888-997-7646 24 hours a day, and say, "I need a lawyer to protect me," and we will seek a legal referral, and you'll get a call from a lawyer.
Dog: Is that amazing?
Jeff: It's making some real change.
Dog: Is that amazing that he's like that? Again, now you know why I hang around with him. I arrest them, and he fixes them.
Dustin: Exactly. It's a great doing.
Dog: No, I'm saying it. It's full circle now. I used to wonder who are they going to call? "Well, you can take this guy for me. Will you?" "I don't know, I've got a lot of clients, you know my lawyers." :Will you help this guy?" "Oh I can't." "Has he got any money?" No, that's the first thing they would say. Now I tell them, "Call Mike." They'd call me back and say, "Man, this guy's ... Thank you, Dog." This is what he does for a living.
Mike Donovan: I should say that our law firm is completely pro bono, so no client ever pays for the services they receive. It's all free of charge. All the legal services that are provided, whether it's criminal court, or immigration court, you're suing the government, nobody pays for those services.
Dustin: That's so incredible.
Dog: I mean if you get your finger cut on the cookie jar, don't call him, but if a cop pulls you over, and you're a female, say, "Hey baby, what kind of measurements you got? Let me see your driver's license."
Mike Donovan: It's true, and no, it happens unfortunately.
Dog: Do you know how many times Beth gets pulled over? That's why she flips them all the bird. I want a sergeant. No, I'm telling you, we're men, we know that. I always wanted to be the driver of the prison bus when the girls left. No.
Mike Donovan: Oh my goodness.
Dog: Okay. She's trying to tell us, "Wrap it up."
Dustin: Yeah, again, thank you guys so much for being on this.
Jeff: That was amazing. Thanks a lot.
Dog: Thank you.
Mike Donovan: Thank you so much.