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Task force targets the state's warrant system

Task force appointed to look at state's warrant system
Posted at 5:29 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 18:33:00-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio’s warrant system could soon be getting an overhaul. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine created a task force to look at the current system of issuing and serving arrest warrants in the state.

“There really isn’t a way of keeping track across the state who has a warrant and who doesn’t,” said Case Western Reserve University Senior Instructor of Law, Michael Benza.

When it comes to the number of outstanding warrants, there is no exact answer.

“Each jurisdiction maintains their own system of warrants,” said Benza.

The exact number isn’t known, but researchers at the Office of Criminal Justice Services believe there are more than 500,000 outstanding warrants in Ohio.

“We want the warrant to follow them no matter where they go in this country,” said DeWine.

Warrants in Ohio are not always entered into the state system or the national database.

“You have an outstanding warrant for a violent crime, someone who has committed rape, somebody who has committed some other violent act and there is no requirement that the warrant go into the state system. No requirement it goes into a national system,” said DeWine.

"If there is a crime in Ohio , they go to Michigan and they get picked up. Michigan enters their name to see if a crime has been committed, if there is an outstanding warrant for them. Michigan has no idea there is an outstanding warrant from Cleveland, or Cincinnati, Columbus or someplace else,” said DeWine

The Governor’s Warrant Task Force will make recommendations regarding the prioritization of warrants for serious offenders and threats to public safety; the substantial volume of outstanding warrants in Ohio; the mass issuance of warrants by the courts across the state; and the best practices for serving outstanding warrants.

“Ideally, we would like to have any person who committed a crime in the database. But, at least we have to start with violent offenders. Those people who are likely to cause physical harm to you or a family member,” said DeWine.

The task force is expected to deliver their findings in the very near future.