Dozens of murderers and rapists released from Detroit jails

The city of Detroit celebrated its emergence from bankruptcy last week, as Governor Snyder and city leaders took a bow at a press conference.

But Detroit isn't out of the woods yet - far from it. And news that dozens of violent criminals have been released from jail because of a backlog in signing warrants, only shows how far the city has to go.

CBS Detroit:

A published report says dozens of suspected killers, rapists and others who were arrested by Detroit police over the past four years have been released because of a backlog of unsigned warrants.

Among the unsigned warrants at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office are 21 for murder, including one going back to 2010, according to a report in the Detroit News. The newspaper says there are 105 for sexual assault and 126 for child abuse.

In most cases, police were forced to release the suspects, since the law requires that they can’t be held beyond 72 hours without being arraigned.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says many of the releases are a result of too few employees in her office. She says the office has “lost half of our staff and it is no surprise that we are not able to fulfill our mandated functions with such drastic staff reductions.”

“It certainly is not surprising that this has impacted our ability to review and charge warrant requests presented to us,” Worthy said.

Maria Miller, Worthy’s spokeswoman, says the prosecutor’s office has 134 staff attorneys, having lost more than 90 this year due to budget cuts. In 2010, the prosecutor’s warrants division had eight full-time attorneys; there are now five full-time attorneys.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig says he sympathizes with issues at the prosecutor’s office, but he has staffing challenges of his own.

“I can’t and won’t say I don’t have enough officers to do the job,” Craig said. “I don’t have the luxury of saying that. I have fewer officers today than when I got started, but I can’t say, ‘We don’t have enough people.’ That’s not an option.”

Meanwhile, Craig says, all his officers can do is continue to arrest suspects.

For the chief, it may not be an option to have an inadequate number of officers covering the streets. But having to re-arrest criminals who have been charged with violent crimes - if they even know where they are - is not a wise use of limited police resources.

Detroit may be out of bankruptcy but it is still a dysfunctional city. There is still a gap between revenue coming in and the necessity of minimally funding city services. Until they can close that gap, the city will continue to be placed in danger by an inadequate criminal justice system.

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