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Living on the Lam

“Some of it has to do with resources in the criminal justice system,” said Rodney Uphoff, a law professor at the University of Missouri. Currently the DOC relies solely on local law enforcement to pick up these criminals, which tends to only happen when they get pulled over and police run their name through the system.”There isn’t a task force that is set up specifically to try to track down this set of individuals,” said Uphoff.ABC 17 News went to both the Columbia Police Department and Boone County Sheriff’s Department and showed them how far we got.In response Sergeant Mike Maynard with the Columbia Police Department said, “it comes down to resources, how much resources do you have to commit to going and finding people who have already been to trial?”Police said they have to prioritize and first find criminals who are currently committing crimes. After that, they look at how dangerous the absconders are, allowing some of the lesser offenders to essentially slip through the cracks. “Without raising taxes there’s going to be a cost to pay and maybe that cost is we aren’t as effective or efficient at catching some people like parole absconders,” said Uphoff. For law enforcement in Mid-Missouri, finding people the Department of Corrections has lost track of comes last and looking for them on Facebook is not an option.Detective Lester said there just is “not enough manpower, not enough resources to dedicate somebody specifically to sit and watch Facebook all day long.” So, who should be picking up the slack? “[The] question then becomes whose resource? It’s the state’s absconders it’s their people they monitor,” said Sergeant Maynard.ABC 17 News tried to talk to the DOC to find out why they aren’t searching for these violators; however they are no longer responding to our station’s questions. After we called and emailed them a dozen times, they refused to sit down face to face to answer our questions pertaining to parole and probation absconders. In the end, despite their avoidance of the issue, the problem persists.According to the DOC’s website, after five years more than half of the people on parole for a second time end up going back to prison and out of the many absconders we found on Facebook, all but one had a lengthy criminal past. There are times when both the Columbia Police Department and the Boone County Sheriffs Department do warrant roundups. During these roundups they spend time finding these criminals, but they say those are very rare.

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