Most Wanted People Violated The Court

When Larry Craig’s daughter posted bond recently in connection with contempt of court charges, the GUARDIAN noted she may not even have known she was “wanted.” That’s because so many warrants are out there.

We did some more checking with the Ada County Sheriff’s office and found there are over 16,000 warrants outstanding at present. Some bad guys–and gals–may have multiple charges pending, but the sad part is a whopping 94% of the warrants–just over 15,000–are for violating a court order of some sort–not an new crime.

The sheriff obviously tries to treat everyone equally, but if a deputy has a choice of busting a wanted felon versus someone who missed a payment or two on a speeding ticket, the felon gets priorty on the rooms at the Greystone Hotel.

No wonder Sherrif Gary is in no rush to build more expensive jail cells to house people wanted for contempt, fail to obey, probation violation, and failure to appear.

We don’t know the answer to this problem, but issuing warrants for people who are mostly just irresponsible adults clogs the courts, the jails, and does little to make Boise and Ada County a safer place…if 94% of the “wanted persons” in Ada County were judged to be threats to society, the judges would have jailed them.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Most people on the warrant list don’t even know they are there until they get stopped for a minor traffic deal go in to renew their license. It is at this point in time that their world starts unraveling like a cheap sweater with their car impounded and they go to jail for arraingment the next business day.

    A solution would be to send these people a post card via snail mail at their last known address and give them the opportunity to come in voluntarily and get on the docket to see a judge and get their deal cleared up. The current M.O. by the cops on the street seems pretty harsh when it involves someone that made an honest mistake and would be more than willing to clear things up if made aware of the problem. It takes a lot of time to arrest and transport folks to jail. I don’t advocate this for “frequent flyers” that have repeatedly missed court obligations. They do need and deserve the refresher course at the GREYBAR HOTEL.

  2. I agree that it is a problem, however we have to hold people responsible for the crimes they commit. If the person is failing to pay fines, or failing to appear for sentencing NOT issuing a warrant sure isn’t going to encourage them to appear. Law Enforcement currently doesn’t have the resources to go track down every person that has a minor warrant. They typically get caught during a traffic stop, or other contact. I know that a lot of the warrants that are in the system exist for illegal immigrants, and transients where no address exists to search for them.

  3. “but the sad part is a whopping 94% of the warrants—just over 15,000—are for violating a court order of some sort—not an new crime.”

    Now Guardian contempt of court is a new crime and one that can get you thrown in the clink. Every one of those folks were notified at some point or other to make an appearance and failed to do so. Habitual offenders often have multiple warrants and are avoiding detection because they have much more serious crimes they are wanted for.

    Also if the public at large gets the sense they can ignore a summons to court then we gots us a problem. I would caution all folks with unpaid fines that if they want to avoid having there picture appear here: http://www.adasheriff.org/ArrestsReport/ they might want to give a call and turn themselves in.

    Cops definitely prefer it goes down easy and will accomodate someone who merely forgot or was confused. They certainly don’t want them incarcerated. But cops are charged with upholding the law. Thumbing your nose at the system is definitely a crime and often indicative of someone with bigger issues that can be a concern for society.

    EDITOR NOTE–Sis, we agree with you completely. Perhaps we made a poor choice of words, but there is sure a problem with people who are already “in the system.” With so many warrants of a “technical nature” there is a lot of room for clerical error as well.

  4. JoJo the Bear
    Sep 19, 2007, 2:06 pm

    Is this an “I don’t want to be on the outs with the Boise City court and cops” kind of announcement, Dave? It’s ok if it is. We don’t want you alienating people in places you need friends… just as long as you are willing and able to continue making Boise a better place to live as well keeping up an informative/fun blog site. Keep on keeping on, Fraz.

  5. Grumpy ole guy
    Sep 20, 2007, 1:54 am

    Hey! watch it! Without “failure to appear” warrents there’d be no Stephanie Plum novels and the world would be a much, much sadder place.

    I really do like the idea of a post card to those who have outstanding warrents; even better, maybe, would be a registered letter so there would be a means of checking on the validity of the last known address.

  6. Paul makes a good point in that authorities should send a postcard to the people at their last known address. That would clear up a lot of cases where an otherwise law-abiding citizen has made an oversight or honest mistake.

    Other than that, however, there is a certain percentage of the population that is perpetually in some phase of the criminal justice system, always somewhere between arrest and parole/probation. These people will continually have to be babysat and will never get their affairs in order. It’s a cost of doing business for society.

  7. I thought Sheriff Raney campaigned in part on a plan to implement a new automatic calling system that would alert people that they have an upcoming court date in an effort to cut the number of failures-to-appear. Maybe the commishes won’t fund it?

  8. I have to ‘fess up. Thirty years ago I had a parking solution for myself. My employer downtown didn’t provide parking so I just collected overparking tickets once or twice a day and considered it the cost of doing business. Every few weeks I would write out a check and mail it in. I figured that the city was making a lot of money off me and would be ok with that. However, I did find out that a warrant was out because of the number of fines I had accrued. It was actually cheaper to pay the fines than pay for downtown parking at that time. Fortunately I wasn’t arrested nor did I do time. Eventually I told my boss “no parky, no worky” and found something else to do.

  9. [I agree that it is a problem, however we have to hold people responsible for the crimes they commit.]

    “The crimes they commit” – so ominous, and smug. Do you know what crime I committed to have a warrant placed? Overdue/lost library books. No, I am not sh*ttin ya.

    We moved; the moving company packed up everything including library books from Library! BPL. Some things (like boxes marked ‘Books!’) we didn’t unpack immediately. When we finally unpacked everything, we found them. By then it was some time out – weeks. Of course the library sent a notice to the old address. It’s not forwarded (for good reason, I believe). I’m truckin’ down Fairview early one Sunday morning and a cop pulls me over for…I don’t even remember…I do remember these words – good news, no ticket; bad news, you have a warrant out. He said it – library books. They sat me on a bench in front of some high desk while my sister did all the footwork of getting the $110 necessary to break me out. Every time a cop would come in, they’d look at me & ask; & the duty officer would reply, “library books” – and they’d snicker. Yes, it was quite humiliating.

    The worst part – I had already returned the books to the library.

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