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Mid-Missouri sheriffs concerned with offender ‘catch-and-release’ system

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ABC 17 News
Missouri Dept. of Corrections logo

Sheriffs across Missouri are expressing their concerns with what they call the Department of Corrections' catch-and-release system.

Sheriffs said the system lets people who violate parole back on the streets instead of giving them any prison time. Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said his office started noticing the issue at the beginning of summer 2019.

"The officers were bringing in people on parole violations," Chism said. "When our jail staff went to return those violators to state prison, that's where the hell started."

The DOC said it does not have a catch-and-release system.

Issues that have been raised recently pertain to technical violations of probation or parole — not new crimes. A technical violation is a violation of the conditions of probation set by the courts or the conditions of parole set by the parole board. Examples might include missing appointments, failing to maintain employment or moving to a new address without notifying the proper authorities. Technical violations are not criminal offenses that endanger public safety.

When someone commits a technical violation of parole, the violator is re-engaged and evaluated, using validated risk and needs assessment tools, to determine whether that citizen should be returned to prison. These decisions are made by the parole board on a case-by-case basis.

This process has not changed. 

Karen Pojmann, DOC communications director

Chism highlighted a recent example in which the DOC released an offender who was arrested for violating parole. Just weeks later, John Garrett was charged with first-degree robbery, resisting or interfering with arrest and first degree attempted assault of an officer.

John Garrett
John Garrett

Chism said the spike in utilizing the program was a decision by the DOC administrative offices. They notified the sheriff of the change.

"They believed they needed to give the offenders more due process," Chism said. "We'd also been given notice that they were going to allow any new charges to be adjudicated before they revoked parole."

Chism posted a letter to citizens on Facebook with his concerns. Read the full letter here:

Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley also chimed in on the issue.

"I just got this from Sheriff Chism," Wheatley said about the letter to citizens in a Facebook post. "I am behind him 100 percent. This is what is happening all over the state."

Callaway / Missouri / News / Top Stories / Top Stories
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Molly Stawinoga

Molly Stawinoga is ABC 17’s weekday morning anchor and a reporter at ABC 17 News. Molly joined the news team in 2017 while studying political science, journalism and Spanish at the University of Missouri. She is originally from DeKalb, Illinois.


1 Comment

  1. If it weren’t for people like Wheatley and his minions running around acting like John Wayne, maybe DOC would take their arrests seriously. I can’t speak for Chism but I know for a fact that the Moniteau County deputies are looked at as the boy who cried wolf simply because of their childish attitudes toward law enforcement where they basically find crimes where none are present. Half of the people in this county can attest to that fact. They’re bullying regular people with this “Iraq War” mentality where everyone is a terrorist and must be treated as such. I’m eager to see what this next election brings. Hopefully our local department can get some much needed raises so we can afford to hire quality men like Clay Chism and get rid of the gang of misfits we have now.

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