The Atrophication of The Criminal Justice System

The atrophication of the criminal justice system over the past several decades is nothing short of remarkable.  My memory goes back to the late sixties.  Remember how safe we felt as kids? Our parents let us roam the neighborhoods and walk to the convenience store and bus stops unchaperoned.  No fear.

Come forward five decades.  Now we drive our kids to school even if school is three blocks away.  We make sure we pickup our kids from soccer practice on time so they don’t sit on the bleachers alone and unguarded.  Fear.

A front-page article appeared in today’s issue of the USA Today, The Ones That Get Away.  The gist of the article is more than a few prosecutor’s across the nation are passing on the opportunity to extradite fugitives, many aggravated felony offenders, back to their jurisdiction to face prosecution.  They claim the financial cost of extradition is too great.  More of a burden than the taxpayer should absorb. Or, the evidence is too weak and they could not win their case.  If this is the case, dismiss the case and recall the warrant so law enforcement and others will not attempt the apprehensin of a fugitive you will not be prosecuting.

These lame excuses probably work on your random uniformed citizen, someone who has never been a victim of a crime or works within the criminal justice system.  It doesn’t fly with those of us who work in the environment every day. 

In the bail profession we see everyday where local court systems are releasing defendants on every kind of charge on small cash deposits, through a taxpayer funded public pretrial release program or on their own recognizance.  The courts will spend millions to create a new bureaucracy to provide employment to friends and cronies but they can’t find any money to pay to extradite an alleged rapist to face their charges and service the victims of these crimes.

The current attitude seems to be; we don’t care if you fail to appear for court as long as you leave the jurisdiction.  The courts have no qualms about keeping any cash bail deposited to help fund for whatever.  Deposit cash bail requires no effort. 

There is a sense that some public officials working in the criminal justice have simply given up and have become cynical.  Why even bother prosecuting these criminals?  It’s just a revolving door.

Well, it is a revolving door to be sure.  The only way to slow the spin is to hold criminals accountable for their actions.  That’s what we do in a civilized society.

Bail agents are in a for-profit profession.  Bail agents do their job because they like their job but they also perform their duties because they want to be successful at what they do, turn a profit, feed their family and be a functioning participant within their community.  No different than any other small business owner.

One of our local veteran bail agents in Indianapolis, Larry Wooden, recently coordinated the capture of a fugitive who was hiding 2000 miles a way in Northern California.  The fugitive was taken into custody with the assistance of local law enforcement and a hold was placed on him for Marion County, Indiana.  Larry told me just last week that Marion County elected to not extradite this fugitive.

Larry spent several thousand dollars in recovery costs and untold man hours looking for this fugitive only to be told the prosecutor doesn’t want him returned.  Go figure.

Where is the resolve, the passion for bringing criminals to court to answer for their crimes, to serve victims of crime and your community?

I have an app on my phone for a local news station.  Not a day goes by I don’t receive an alert of some crime, shooting, home invasion or accident from a drunk driver.  Crime is rampant.

The backbone of justice is quickly becoming a limp noodle.  Bail agents are always ready and prepared to perform and do so on a regular basis.  In many cases we’re just waiting for the local politicos to see through the double talk of purveyors of taxpayer funded pretrial release programs, risk based assessment schemes and deposit bail.  Point the bat signal to the sky and call upon the bail profession to do what we do best, get people to court.  Cat-atrophy averted.