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Who Let (the) Dog Out?

Brian K. Pinaire

Lehigh University - Political Science

May 23, 2011

Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 6, 2011

This Essay provides the first-ever scholarly investigation of the origins of "bounty hunting" as the practice exists in the United States. With an historical focus on British policies instituted around the turn into the eighteenth century, I argue that the scheme of regularized rewards for the arrest and prosecution of alleged criminal offenders constitutes the "roots" of American bounty hunting. This early system, whose practitioners were referred to as "thief-takers," formalized and legitimized the notion of incentivized pursuit of "fugitives" and - while eventually phased out in Britain - provides the historical and conceptual parallel for the for-profit, private sector-level apprehension of individuals wanted by the law in the United States today. These early policies are, in short, what let the "Dog" out in the Anglo-American tradition.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: bounty hunting, fugitives, rewards, police

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Date posted: May 25, 2011 ; Last revised: June 7, 2011

Suggested Citation

Pinaire, Brian K., Who Let (the) Dog Out? (May 23, 2011). Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 6, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1850866 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1850866

Contact Information

Brian Pinaire (Contact Author)
Lehigh University - Political Science ( email )
9 West Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States
610.758.3339 (Phone)
610.758.3348 (Fax)
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