PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: July 15, 2005
WANTED PERSONS WEBSITE PUBLISHED
Phase Two of Capias Roundup Project
(Dover, DE): This morning at a press conference at the Wilmington Police Department, Attorney General M. Jane Brady, Chair of the Warrant/Capias Committee of the Criminal Justice Council, and Wilmington Police Chief Michael Szczerba, accompanied by other members of the Committee, announced the next step in the Capias Roundup Project, an initiative to reduce the number of outstanding warrants for persons who fail to appear in court when scheduled or pay monies owed to the courts or victims. Beginning today, July 15th, the public is being asked to visit the Wanted Persons website which contains information about those persons who still have an outstanding capias. Any adult offender is included in the database although juveniles who are being tried as adults in the Superior Court will be listed. The website is a searchable database and includes 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 is - www.state.de.us/deljis Click on the "Wanted Person Review" under DELJIS News on the homepage.
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.
Attorney General Brady said, "This is the most significant effort to reduce the number of fugitives in Delaware in years. I welcome the public's participation in our efforts to hold criminals accountable." Members of the public are asked to alert police where a scofflaw or criminal can be found. Brady suggested "the public should use non-emergency numbers to contact their local police if they have information to report the location of an individual listed on the website."
Brady described the Capias Roundup Project as an initiative to further public safety and assure compliance with court orders through the resolution of outstanding writs of capias. She highlighted the excellent
cooperation between the Delaware Courts, the Department of Correction, Delaware Justice Information System (DELJIS), law enforcement and the Delaware Attorney General's Office on this Project.
Peggy Bell, Executive Director of the Delaware Justice Information System, demonstrated the website capabilities. Her office has been responsible for fielding telephone inquiries through a toll free number, which will remain active as a companion information source along with the website. Bell commented that, "People who have called the toll free number have been supportive of this effort and they see a positive effect on public safety." Her office has handled nearly 200 calls in the past month from individuals checking on the status of open issues they may have with the courts. Bell reiterated that the toll free number - 1-866-751-5327 - is still operational.
Wilmington Police Chief Michael Szczerba commented that the Project was, "an important step toward clearing the backlog of capiases that drain officer manpower." Szczerba said the Project was valuable, "because it encouraged people to take responsibility for these outstanding matters and to resolve them prior to a contact with a police officer on the street."
Brady reiterated, "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 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."
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 also reported that over the past 30 days, 10,038 capiases have been resolved, over 1,500 more than in the same period before the committee began its initiatives.
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.