Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The revolving door

There is a bit of background information relating to this post in my previous post, Most frequent arrest. After Clair Lindquist got me the number I was seeking (2,492 warrant arrests by the Lincoln police officers in 2007), he pointed out a particularly illustrative example to me. He had me look up a 25-year old Lincoln woman. Here's her record of being booked into the Lancaster County jail:

Basically, she is a chronic shoplifter, who boosts merchandise to support a drug habit. She's regularly getting busted, and normally is issued a citation and released, because she's a local resident and the offenses are misdemeanors. This started to change about a year ago. She missed her first court date back in 2006 and a warrant was issued. In February of 2007, she was stopped for a traffic violation, the officer discovered the warrant, and booked her into jail. She posted bond on the warrant and was released. This process occurred three times in all, while in the meantime many more court dates were missed, resulting in many more warrants. The missed court dates also resulted in seven additional charge of Failure to Appear in Court. Each of these were dismissed, however, in what appears to be a plea agreement that finally netted her a 30 day jail sentence.

She's been playing quite a game. The court apparently figured this out by the middle of December, and she has been esconced in the Lancaster County Jail since that time. She still has a pair of additional shoplifting charges pending, from November 30 and December 6, 2007. She's scheduled to be in court on January 289and January 30 on those two cases. I hope she's still in jail on those dates, because the chances of her actually showing up are slimt to none otherwise.

Her record of failing to appear in court will now pretty much guarantee that she will be jailed whenever she's caught shoplifting or driving on a suspended license. She'll bond out, miss her court date, a warrant will issue, she'll get pulled over again, and on and on and on. Imagine the workload this revolving door process is causing for police, prosecutors, jail, and courts.


PrairieDog said...

Acceptance of the revolving door is a hurdle in law enforcement. I think officers try to help and correct the behavior in the moment. But it is ultimately up to the individual to change their behavior.

The frustration of loading a bookin sheet in hopes that something will stick and offer the prosecuting attorney something to bargain with does get me ill. But, lets face it. How many times has one heard in the hallway, "One more second your honor I beleive we may have a deal." No one likes to go to trial for minor offenses. With the case load so burdensome I don't blaim anyone in the legal system. Cop a plea and pay a fee is an accepted practice.

But all I ask is that those wanting to get into the field of law enforcement is this. Come in with the idea that you will help someone. You will accomplish this but you can not help everyone.

Spin on revovling door. The crime in town was here before me and it will be here when I am gone. But in the mean time I will catch those who I can.

Tom Casady said...

Good point, prairiedog. I think it was Teddy Roosevelt who said:

"Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are."

Anonymous said...

She is not related to me

Jim Johnson