African American bail bondswoman Krystal Banks: ‘Don’t be a dumb criminal’

African American bail bondswoman Krystal Banks: 'Don’t be a dumb criminal'
Photo Credit: Terance Drake

Krystal Banks is the owner of Banks Bail Bonds, with offices in Detroit, Port Huron, and Lapeer, Michigan. She serves the needs of individuals throughout the entire state and has been a bail bondsman for over 18 years. Currently, she’s the only African American female property bail bondsman in Michigan.

Banks is also the proud author of the eye-opening book Don’t’ Be a Dumb Criminal, where she plainly teaches people about laws and the judicial system in hopes of preventing them from becoming criminals. She has a free accompanying app that she’s created that mirrors her company’s motto: Bail Before Jail. Her goal in creating the app was to help people quickly gain their freedom from jail.

Banks also created the Don’t Be a Dumb Criminal program which has made a great impact in the lives of metro Detroit’s youth. Presently, the program is being conducted in some of Detroit’s public schools such Cody High School, the Detroit Institute of Technology and College Prep, and in the River Rouge school district among 6-12 grade classes. The DBADC program educates society as a whole on the criminal justice system and strives to empower the youth in creating sustainable and financially profitable businesses of the future.

Banks can add speaker to her resume as well as she speaks at various schools in the metro Detroit region. She assists those with a criminal background get back on track with creating resumes, interview prep and job placement. Banks and her team of expertly-trained individuals are dedicated to changing people’s lives by educating them about their legal rights and the judicial system as a whole.

Rolling out spoke with Banks about her businesses, her DBADC program and how she handles being a Black woman in a male-dominated industry.

How did you get into the bail bonds business?

A bail bond company contacted me to be an intern. I accepted and after a few months I asked the manager how do I become an agent and they refused to tell me. I went to their competitor and they hired me. After I worked for them for two years they asked if I wanted to buy the business. I said yes and saved my money for five years and finally purchased the business. By the third year, we put the other company out of business.

How long have you had your own business?

For eleven years.

Bail bonding tends to be a male-dominated industry. You don’t see women in this business often, especially Black women. How rare is it for a Black female to have her own bail bonds business?

Yes. It’s rare, but I also [employ] several African American females [on my team as well.]

How many other Black women do you know that are like you?

None. I am the only African American female, as well as property bail bondswoman in Michigan.

Are you treated differently than males in the business? If so, tell us how.

Yes. People think [that] as a woman, we would not go [out] into the field [to track down] clients who try to run, but we apprehend just as much as the next man.

Tell us about your seminar, Don’t Be a Dumb Criminal. 

Our seminar is unique. It teaches you to break down law and crime with everyday life. Unless you are a lawyer, or in law enforcement, no one takes the time to educate you on the laws, and you eventually have to learn the hard way. This unfortunate fact of life is what led me to develop this series. Our programs educate people on how they unintentionally break the law every day, by sometimes simply doing an everyday menial task. It is because you don’t know every law that you do not recognize the crime in what you are doing. For example, you have been picking up your parents prescription’s for years. Although it is a legal drug prescribed to your parents, you can be charged for possession if your parents are not in the car with you. Your police record will now say you are a drug dealer with a felony. So, in a nutshell, our program teaches you how to legally avoid a charge for a crime you didn’t know you were committing.

Who is the target audience for the DBADC program? 

Everyone. People need to stop being so naive when it comes down to crime and laws. We see police officers, attorneys, and politicians getting arrested every day, and these are the people that know the law. So how do you figure we stand a chance with us knowing less than a quarter of the laws that they know?

What is your end goal?

To help people understand that with the proper training they can avoid being abused by the judicial system and get the best results for their situation if they are ever in trouble with the law.

What overall message do you want people to walk away with? 

We know the system is stacked against citizens, so why not take steps to prevent being in an unwanted situation?

Why is it important to educate students and adults on the criminal system?

The government is spending billions of dollars on jails and prisons. They are not building them for city aesthetics. They are building them because they know people that do not understand the law will fill those places up. You need to make sure you educate yourself so that you are not one of them.

Why did you decide to put your knowledge in a book? 

I’ve been a bondswoman for 18 years and the more I educate my clients on the system, the less they will be repeat offenders. Then they will refer me to new offenders anyway because they will believe I’m smarter than another bail bondsman.

How did you come up with the name of your book?

Actually, my friend Randy Holloway, who is a producer, came up with the name. We were on the phone and I was running names by him that I liked and he did not like the ones I was suggesting. Then he said I was always calling criminals dumba–es so he said you should call the book “Don’t Be a Dumba– Criminal.” I didn’t really think it would work, but everyone we ran it by absolutely loved it, so it stuck. Well everyone except the church and school crowds. But that’s why I made the PG version “Don’t Be a Dumb Criminal.”

Why do you show up to work every day?

I enjoy helping people through some of their toughest and scariest moments.

What’s your motivation? 

To try to make a difference.

Where can people find more information about your book and your business?

They can find more info at

Where can they follow you on social media?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: DontBeaDumbAssCriminal or BanksBailBonds

African American bail bondswoman Krystal Banks: 'Don’t be a dumb criminal'
Photo Credit: Terance Drake
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