Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sad state of affairs

My daily email from the Police Executive Research Forum yesterday contained a link to a three-part series from USA Today:

The ones that get away

A license to commit crime

The short arm of the law

These concern an ugly truth about dysfunction in the criminal justice system that is little known by the public, but often encountered by police officers. Many wanted fugitives, for whom felony arrest warrants exist, evade arrest by simply leaving the state--because in many states, prosecutors are unwilling to bear the expense of extradition, the process through which a fugitive is returned to the state where the charges originate.

The USA Today series tells the stories of what occurs as a result: some of these wanted felons go on to commit more crimes, including robberies, rapes, and murders. How would you feel, if your own family member was the victim of such a crime, when you learn that the local authorities has arrested the defendant on an out-of-state felony warrant, but had been forced to release him because the state of origin declined to extradite? What a sad state of affairs.

I've encountered this throughout my career, from both sides, and I get it: extradition is expensive, and it makes little sense to spend a few thousand dollars to bring a forger back from Florida to face a fine of a few hundred. We can just try to execute the warrant when and if he returns to our state. But when a fugitive wanted for a violent felony is arrested in another state, and the authorities in the originating jurisdiction are unwilling to bring him back to face justice, that is another matter. They should just fold up their tent and close down, because the first obligation of government is to protect the citizens, and they have failed.

7 comments:

Steve said...

It's always amazed me that people worry about spending money to put criminals in jail. Sure, I can understand the common argument about so many non-violent pot smokers causing overcrowding, but rather than bitch about spending money on incarerating them, why not get the law changed and make it legal if you don't think it is a problem? As for the rest, I suggest it is far cheaper for society to keep these losers in a cell than to let them out where the majority of them will commit more crimes. Many will be back in custody within days or weeks of release. What did we save, virtually nothing. What did we lose by letting them out, perhaps someone's life, or their life savings, but worst of all the sense of security we'd like to have as we go about our daily lives.

Trevor Brass said...

Perhaps state and local authorities could contract with JPATS?

Tom Casady said...

Trevor,

Exactly. Smart ones already are doing just that.

Tom Casady said...

Trevor,

Exactly. Smart ones already are doing just that.

Steve said...

Real life Con Air! I hope Nicholas Cage is on board.

Anonymous said...

If we can build a $300 million arena, we can probably afford to pay the cost of extraditing the worst of those who are wanted elsewhere for violent felonies. This would be unusually proactive, and would pay future benefits - because knowing that They can't find safe haven in Lincoln would eventually have many such violent miscreants avoiding Lincoln in favor of less proactive cities elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

@3:50: Lincoln pays to extradite criminals from an out of town location not to another location from Lincoln.