PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler/Janice Fitzsimons
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: June 15, 2005
CAPIAS ROUNDUP PROJECT ANNOUNCED
Wanted persons will have 30 days to resolve court issues before their names appear on website
(Dover, DE): At a press conference earlier today, Attorney General M. Jane Brady, Chair of the Warrant/Capias Committee of the Criminal Justice Council, accompanied by other members of the Committee, unveiled an initiative to further public safety and assure compliance with court orders through the resolution of outstanding writs of capias. The Capias Roundup Project, which is a joint effort between the Delaware Courts, the Department of Correction, Delaware Justice Information System (DELJIS), law enforcement and the Delaware Attorney General's Office, will encourage wanted persons to resolve delinquent, pending matters with Delaware's criminal justice system. A capias is a warrant issued by a court when someone fails to comply with an order of the court to appear when they are scheduled or to pay a financial obligation by a certain date. The entries include outstanding traffic summonses
Attorney General Brady described the two primary phases of the Project at today's press conference. First, the purpose of today's announcement is to give notice to wanted persons that the website will be activated in one month, on July 15, 2005. During this month, anyone who believes they may have an open issue with the courts, can resolve the matter and avoid the public display of their name, the nature of the offense, and other information that will assist members of the public in alerting police where a scofflaw or criminal can be found. An informational telephone number has been set up to field inquiries from citizens. The toll free number will allow individuals to determine if they have any outstanding matters and to find out where they need to go, and how they can resolve them. The toll free number, in Delaware, is 1-866-751-5327.
On July 15, 2005, information about those persons who still have an outstanding capias will be published on a state website. The website will be a searchable database and will include the full name, race, sex, year and month of birth, court, warrant number, and case number for those persons with outstanding capiases. The website address will be announced just prior to its July 15th launch.
Attorney General Brady said, "For victims of crime, justice delayed is often justice denied. The State has the burden of proof, and the more time that passes before a defendant is brought to trial, the more difficult the burden. This initiative is intended to bring criminals to justice, and to foster better respect for the orders of a court to appear for proceedings and to pay restitution and other financial obligations owed."
Brady, who formed the Warrant/Capias Committee and has chaired the Committee since its inception in December, 2002, added that the Capias Roundup Project is the latest in a series of efforts to develop interagency procedures to reduce and prevent the reoccurrence of the backlog of outstanding warrants and capiases. The Committee has initiated several innovative approaches to remedy outstanding warrants and capiases including the refining of extradition procedures, routine matching of the names of welfare recipients against those of violators of probation and fleeing felons, a successful sting operation that captured a number of fleeing felons, cross checking of wanted persons with the incarcerated population, and streamlining of court procedures to expedite processing of wanted persons.
Brady commended the Courts, law enforcement agencies, correctional officials and DELJIS for undertaking the changes in their procedures to assure the success of the Capias Roundup Project. She noted that approximately 70,000 adults are wanted by the criminal justice system for failure to appear for proceedings or failure to pay financial obligations. By reducing that number, and seeking the public's assistance in locating those who are wanted by the courts, Brady expects that the police will be able to more effectively utilize the list to target offenders who disregard their obligations.
Brady did have a word of caution for anyone with an outstanding capias, however. "During this initiative, no one is excused from their outstanding obligations, and if you are stopped for a traffic offense, and are wanted, the police will still take you into custody and take you to court, at which time you may have to post bail or be incarcerated. I encourage everyone to take these outstanding matters seriously." Brady also noted that no outstanding warrants for arrest will be published. "We do not want to alert anyone that the police are looking for them and perhaps adversely affect an investigation. The matters which will appear on the website are matters for which the individual has already received a ticket or been arrested, and has failed to appear in court when scheduled or to pay their restitution or fines on time."