MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — A new initiative in an Oregon county to keep people in jail who regularly skip their court dates is working, according to recent data.
The effort, launched two months ago by Jackson County Sherriff Nathan Sickler, already has captured 13 criminals who together have 150 cases and failed to appear for 500 court dates, the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said.
“It’s pretty amazing these 13 people would represent 150 cases,” District Attorney Beth Heckert said. “That many failure-to-appears is also pretty amazing.”
The court generates a list of people who have missed a large number of court dates, Heckert said. The missed court hearings can range from pre-trial conferences to skipping out on a scheduled guilty plea.
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The Medford Police Department creates a “hot sheet” with color photos and descriptions of the most wanted chronic court skippers. The list is then distributed to law enforcement agencies around the county.
The jail is reserving up to 10 beds for those who are arrested, the Mail Tribune reported .
“They are held there until they resolve their court cases or make bail,” Heckert said.
When a person on the list is jailed, the prosecutor assigned to the person’s cases is notified and puts together a plea agreement offer covering all the cases. The defendant also has the choice of going to trial, Heckert said.
“We want people to come to court and resolve their cases,” she said.
Of the 13 people arrested since the beginning of the initiative, three have received prison sentences, four have been sentenced to probation, one entered an intensive supervision program, four have pending cases and one entered guilty pleas on two cases and is scheduled to go to trial on three cases later this month, according to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office data and court records.
Heckert said when people skip court, they waste the time of the whole criminal justice system and add to the workload.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Captain Dan Penland, who heads the jail, said people who fail to appear in court and have warrants issued for their arrest put added strain on the court system, jail staff, police on the streets, the records employees who process the warrants and everyone else involved in the criminal justice system.
Of the 13 people targeted so far by the failure-to-appear initiative, seven are women.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/