BBMR MGMT NEWS: Analysis show repeat criminals run free without proper support to AGO, DOC
(Note: The Bureau of Budget and Management Research, for the first time in a very long time, will be conducting the second half of its mandate: management research. BBMR has elected to review the government’s criminal justice system and to offer recommendations for improvement. The results follow.)
An analysis of the Guam Police Department’s mission reveals police have gone above and beyond to arrest criminals. It’s what has happened after these arrests that has left neighborhoods, homes and businesses less secure and vulnerable to crime.
Between 2010 and 2014, almost half the charges brought against murderers, child abusers, rapists and other felons were dismissed. And 43 percent of all criminal misdemeanor charges also were dismissed in that same period. Those include charges against criminals like robbers, thieves, vandals and even abusive spouses.
– Totally felony charges: 2,470; charges dismissed: 1,059
– Total misdemeanor charges: 4,372, charges dismissed: 1,827
Several defendants facing trial probably would not have been free to commit crime if they were sentenced for a previous crime and were not under pre-trial release:
– 16 percent of family violence criminal defendants were on pre-trial release for a previous crime
– 11 percent of defendants facing trial for crimes against people and their property were on pre-trial release for a previous crime
– 10 percent of DUI defendants were on pre-trial release for a previous crime
– 24 percent of drug crime defendants were on pre-trial release for a previous crime
– 9 percent of sex crime defendants were on pre-trial release for a previous crime
The likelihood of criminals on adult probation committing crime also is very high: 24 percent of adult probationers were charged again by the Attorney General’s Office. These are criminals on probation who committed crimes against people and property, and DWI and criminal traffic violations. There are 2,974 adult probationers. This means about 713 of them committed another crime while on probation.
From 2010 to April 3, 2014, the Attorney General filed 3,131 felony cases with the Superior Court. He filed 5,209 criminal misdemeanor cases in that same period. Only half of the felony cases involved first-time offenders. Likewise, nearly half the criminal misdemeanor cases involved first-time offenders.
Over half the cases filed with the Superior Court involve criminals who would not have had the opportunity to commit crime if they were in jail for a previous offense against the law.
FINDINGS: Since FY 2011, the Guam Police Department efficiently and effectively responded to and deterred crime, with exceptions.
– Police have arrested 8,843 people for violating over 21,000 different criminal counts
– 1,611 of these arrests were made for family violence
– For 2012 and 2013, and for burglary, alone, officers arrested 38-criminals
– This data does not reflect the ancillary duties police officers have in the criminal justice system, to include the writing and filing of reports, time spent in court, investigative work, etc. This data demonstrates only the result of their efforts to take criminals off the streets and place them in the criminal justice system.
FINDINGS: The Attorney General’s Office is challenged in efficiently and effectively dispensing criminal justice once the police have turned the case over to prosecutors.
– The AGO has filed 8,340 criminal felony and misdemeanor cases since 2010. The AGO has only 19 prosecutors to follow these cases. That’s 439 cases per prosecutor, on average the past four years.
– It is hardly fair to expect the AGO to effectively prosecute these many cases dealing with even more defendants with only 19 prosecutors.
– The Bureau has, by law, released one-twelfth the AGO’s budget each month, and the Department of Administration has released cash timely for the budgeted operations of the AGO.
– The problem is the AGO is underfunded; its budget is too small. It is critical for the Legislature to give the AGO the spending authority to hire more prosecutors.
– This underfunding, which led to a lack of prosecutors, has allowed criminals to roam free to commit more crimes during the past four-year-period.
FINDINGS: Had the AGO succeeded in prosecuting these criminals, there would not have been room for their remand at the Department of Corrections.
– The Department of Corrections currently houses many more inmates and detainees than its facilities were designed to accommodate for effective rehabilitation.
– Before the Legislature is legislation by Sen. Brant McCreadie that provides ways and means for the construction of a new prison. There has been no action on this bill to date.
CONCLUSION: The criminal justice system is, indeed, a system where all parts need to work in order for criminal justice to be dispensed. While the police have done their part to arrest criminals, and the courts have dispensed with justice timely and in a manner that innovatively rehabilitates criminals, the system is broken if prosecution and prison space are lacking. It is imperative for the Legislature to provide the ways and means both the AGO and DOC need to make their roles in the criminal justice system sustainable.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: We thank the Unified Courts of Guam and the Guam Police Department for providing the data we needed to compile this analysis.