Even Sheriffs Agree Prison Overcrowding is a Problem

This story was first aired on September 30, 2014 by  KY3 News in Springfield, Missouri.  On the outset, it might look like this is just another anti-crime story, but in reality the sheriffs in this article are complaining about prison overcrowding.  We have been arguing all along that incarcerating first time offenders for decades does nothing but create a backlog which allows repeat offenders to remain on the street because there is no room in the prisons.  There is no place to put them when they re-offend, so they stay in our communities to commit more crimes.  We can help solve this problem by giving first time offenders the opportunity to prove that they have rehabilitated and can be productive members of our society once again.  It makes more sense to give first time offenders who show good behavior the opportunity to be free than for us to allow persistent offenders to remain on our streets.

 

"Sheriffs Slam Probation, Parole System; Say Offenders Need More Checks"

by Sara Forehetz     September 30, 2014      www.ky3.com

Springfield, Missouri -- Three county sheriffs tell KY3 News that problems in the Missouri Division of Probation and Parole put public safety at risk.  They say, once criminals are out of lock-up, they are not being monitored closely, and some commit much more serious crimes.

"Whenever you have that, society pays," said Sheriff Darrin Reed.

A young girl was killed in a car crash three weeks ago in Gainesville, but the heartache will last forever in the sheriff's mind.

"Too many times, I've had to go tell a parent that your child is deceased to the hands of somebody like this," Reed said.

The driver in the crash, Joshua McMackin, 22, was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, manslaughter and assault.  Records show, even before the deadly crash, McMackin had a long rap sheet, and Sheriff Reed says he never should have been out of lock-up.  Reed says Alley Chambers should still be alive.

"There is a public outcry in Ozark County and I will do my job to protect them.  I will keep putting them in jail, but it's not the sheriff's department's fault because they are being released on these probations.  It's the simple fact that Probation and Parole is not revoking them, is not violating them and issuing a probation violation.

We contacted the Division of Probation and Parole's leaders in Jefferson City.  They refused to do an interview.  They said in an e-mailed statement:  "The top priority of the Division of Probation and Parole and its officers is to protect public safety.  Our officers continuously assess and evaluate the offenders pursuant to our policies.  There has been no change to the policies regarding the supervision of offenders on probation and parole."

Sheriff Reed isn't the only one angry about probation and parole policies.

"How am I justifying to these people, that in the community, yeah, I know he's been arrested five times and he is on probation and parole, but I'm sorry?  We can't put him in jail even though I know he's high," said Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase.

Degase says he used to go on home visits with Probation and Parole officers to randomly check on offenders, and his office used to do random drug testing, but no more is that happening.

"We deal with this every day, where people use fake urine, or bring somebody else's urine to go in for a urinalysis test.  And if they're not observed, it's very frustrating.  We have been told we are no longer involved in that process -- home visits.  I couldn't tell you the last time we went on a home visit," Degase said.

In fact, Degase says another teen's live would have been spared if someone had been keeping closer tabs on murder suspect Sean D. Roberson.

"We had a subject who we arrested her who had been stalking a girlfriend.  He'd broken into her house, followed her to school.  There was a chase with my officers that resulted in him being shot multiple times with a bean bag gun and being Tazed, and before he was taken into custody for this, he went to prison.  He did some time in prison.  When he came out, there were violations in the Springfield area, multiple violations, and subsequently he ended up committing a murder in Taney County," said Degase.

Eighteen-year-old Andros Valentin-Vargas was killed in Taney County.

Now, to Wright County.

"We got repeat people who are just continuously being put out on parole, come out on parole and we're arresting them again for drugs.  And to me that should be sending them right back straight to the Department of Corrections, because, when you come out on parole, you are supposed to walk the straight and narrow path," said Wright County Sheriff Glenn Adler.  "The system is not working."

"I'm going to be here and I'm going to keep applying pressure until something is fixed," Reed said.

KY3 found it is likely the problem also includes overcrowded jails, prisons, and court dockets.

All three sheriffs feel like something changed with Probation and Parole's policies starting near the beginning of the year, however the Board says nothing has changed.