Bibb Co. faces high rate of "no extradition" warrants

Across the country, thousands of fugitives are escaping justice simply by crossing state lines. An investigation by USA Today showed that law enforcement departments nationwide have a large number of "non-extradition warrants," meaning departments will not pick up someone up across state lines.

Bibb County was among the top 20 jurisdictions in the country with the most no-extradition warrants. Of Bibb's almost 1,600 felony warrants in the system in 2013, 93 percent of them were classified as no extradition.

That includes 5 of the 11 warrants for violent crimes, and 10 of the 18 warrants for sex crimes.

Chief Deputy Russell Nelson says most offenders in Bibb County stay within Georgia.

For those who leave, he says extradition can be expensive. Last year, Bibb County spent more than 7 thousand dollars bringing fugitives back to Macon. That's around 1,500 over their $5,500 budget set aside for that purpose.

Recently, the departments started using a less expensive transport system to capture fugitives rather than paying to send two deputies themselves, which can often cost airlines fees and gas.

For example, the department paid $1,780 to capture a felon in Riverside, California. If they had to pay themselves, it would have cost them $3,561, covering airline tickets, lodging, and 2 days of personnel costs.

District Attorney David Cooke says cost isn't a factor when pursuing severe felons. He says despite a "non-extradition" designation in the NCIC system, felons can still be brought back through the D.A.'s extradition process.

"I was alarmed, I was concerned," Cooke said after reading the report. "I immediately checked with both my Chief Assistant and with the Sheriff, and like I said both of them said from what they know, we've extradited every violent felon that's been in there and almost every felony of any kind," Cooke says.

Through open records, 13WMAZ found one case in Crawford County where a man accused of rape and kidnapping wasn't brought back to Central Georgia.

The alleged rape happened in 2009. In 2010, the suspect, Jason Ware tried to buy a firearm in West Virginia.

During a background check, the FBI learned about the outstanding warrant from Crawford County, and sent his address back to Crawford.

They were also notified in 2011 of a traffic stop involving Ware, but Ware was never brought back because the warrant was non-extradition.

Crawford County's incident report says Ware also sent a letter to the Sheriff asking them to drop the charges because he no longer lives in Georgia.

After discovering the case through open records, the Crawford County Sheriff's Department now says they're planning on seeking extradition, a move District Attorney David Cooke says he'll support.

Cooke also says he wants departments not to designate no extradition on their warrants moving forward.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge


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