Missouri’s Greene County has more than 19,000 active warrants, more than 3,000 for felonies, says the Springfield (MO) News-Leader. Law enforcement authorities say they have too few resources to pursue most wanted suspects, leaving their capture up to chance. And leaving them free to, in some cases, commit other offenses. The hole in enforcement can have dire consequences. In two of eight homicides that occurred in the city last year, the suspects were long wanted on less severe crimes.
“What it actually does is undermines the foundation of government,” said Springfield City Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky, a former prosecutor. “There are people out there that have to be brought into the system.” Greene County’s list of outstanding warrants includes 800 assault charges and almost 70 sex offenses. The victims of these alleged crimes are left waiting indefinitely for justice. “It just makes a mockery of the system,” said Steve Ijames, a former Springfield police major. “Many of these cases, if you can just avoid contact with the cops you don’t face justice.” He is a member of the Safety and Justice Roundtable, a citizen commission tasked with studying the area’s criminal justice system.