Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Increase In Citations In Lieu Of Arrest, Leads To An Increase In Warrants For Failure To Appear

Chalk this up to the Law of Unintended Consequences. There was a story in the local Killeen Daily Herald that looked at the consequences of a move to allow Texas officers to write tickets in lieu of making a custodial arrest.

The Legislature in 2007 changed misdemeanor laws, allowing officers to give tickets for such crimes as shoplifting and low-quantity drug possession and have offenders show up later to court.
Such “cite and release” programs were designed to ease crowding at county jails and free officers from spending hours arresting and booking suspects.

But the Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday that a “cite and release” program being run by some law enforcement agencies in Travis County has resulted in more than 40 percent of defendants never returning for their assigned court dates.

Via The Killeen Daily Herald
One thing that the article didn't touch on is does the cost savings by not having officers make a custodial arrest for minor non-violent offenses outweigh the increase in costs caused by defendants failing to appear who then are subject to arrest warrants.

It may be that even with a large number of these offenders skipping out on their court dates, the cost savings are such that the idea may still make sense. The flipside of 40% not showing up for court is that 60% actually did show up. Of that 40% that didn't, I wonder how many got arrested on a Failure To Appear warrant later in the year?

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