‘We have a violent crime problem in Utah,’ says U.S. Marshal

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Law enforcement is seeing more and more criminals released and back into the community shortly after an arrest is made.

In three years, Utah’s Federal Task Force made 2,000 arrests.

“We deal with the most violent offenders of our community,” says District of Utah United States Marshal Matthew D. Harris.

While looking at those arrests, Harris found one-third of Adult Parole and Probation fugitives were arrested more than once, and those are the most violent offenders in communities.

“That doesn’t include any arrest that may have been made by West Jordan, West Valley, Salt Lake City, or any of our other partners,” he adds. “When I look at the data, it’s disturbing: criminals with 30, 40, and 50 prior arrests are released back into society soon after their apprehension and continue repeating their endless cycle of crime and victimization.”

More than 100 officers working around the state are on the Federal Task Force Harris oversees.
He says the people they are arresting are “frequent flyers.”

“And if we are seeing those people over and over again, you know, what’s happening on the lower crimes?” says Harris.

Law Enforcement officials met at a Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss the problem, and officials say they made plenty of headway.

“We were really able to focus, I think, on some of the issues on policy that we can fix as a legislature,” says Clearfield Representative Karianne Lisonbee.

Rep. Lisonbee co-chairs the committee and is starting a new bill looking at what can be done if a parolee violates parole.

“It’s very concerning and that is part of the reason I called this meeting,” says Rep. Lisonbee. “If we review their entire criminal history, or are we just reviewing the charge at hand which is just a parole violation, and how that affects how long they are held and how we move forward in the criminal justice system.”

Leaders at AP&P say they welcome the criticism for a clearer path forward.

“It’s good to hear concerns and when concerns are raised we are open to hearing those concerns, addressing issues that occur with people under our supervision or that are incarcerated in our population,” Deputy Executive Director for the Department of Corrections Jim Hudspeth tells us. “We try to be transparent, we try to address those issues, and work on those things.”

US Marshal Harris says, his team and law enforcement will continue catching the violent criminals in Utah, but his team needs help.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but I know is that we are sick and tired of going after the same people over and over again,” says Harris.

One tactic the Federal Task Force finds useful is applying federal charges where they can. Officials say right now it’s the best solution they have.

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