MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Mobile Police said most residential burglaries are extremely difficult to solve. In many cases there are no witnesses, no alarms or fingerprints.
Burglary, however, is a crime that has touched thousands across our area. When police do make an arrest, they expect the suspect to stay put.
Some officials said, however, that is not happening.
"A repeat offender knows the system, and he has a bond agent on speed dial," said Mobile Police Captain Clay Godwin. "He can get out of jail with a 5 minute phone call, whereas you or I who've never been arrested before - if we're arrested, it would take us hours."
Police said it's becoming more difficult to combat the problem when serial burglars and habitual offenders are able to walk right out of Mobile Metro Jail within minutes after an arrest.
There are several programs out there to help habitual criminals kick the habit, but is it enough?
"It's always been that way," said Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran. "You constantly see the same people over and over."
Court and law enforcement officials have said everyone is entitled to a bond. In some cases, even a repeat offender can be awarded a bond as well.
Mobile County judges said they have to look at the big picture on a case by case basis.
"I don't think I participate nor any of my colleagues participate 'willingly' in this concept of revolving door at the courthouse," said Mobile County Judge Charles McKnight. "The DA is not stuck with administration of the mandate of the Constitutional right to bond. They feel everybody should be kept in jail. It just doesn't work like that."
Judge George Hardesty said, "A judge should be taking into account everything. The interest of the state, the interest of the victim, the interest of society in general, the interest of the defendant, the interest of the defendant's family and how it affects things in general. For instance, the jail population is something that the court should take into account."
Authorities said there are 1,500 inmates but just over 1,200 designated beds at Mobile Metro Jail.
It is no secret that overcrowding is a problem.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said the jail plays no role in her position. She believes, "If you are on bond and you commit a new offense then we are going to ask for your bond to be revoked, every time."
Mobile County judges said it's the DA's job to ask for bond revocation and to fight for the prosecution.
A judge's job, however, is much different - taking all sides into account.
Sometimes judges said they would have liked to revoke a bond but the information is lacking or there is just not enough evidence.
"I try to make the best decision," said Judge Hardesty. "The right decision for the right reason, Andrew. But oftentimes, the court system is not informed what the defendant's record may be."
"When I sit in the capacity of a judge and set a bond, oftentimes, I am not honored with all the priors that they have," said Judge McKnight.
Rich responded, "I don't buy that, because we have their criminal history. We have their jail log at the time of the bond hearing. We have our own record keeping system here at the district attorney's office with regards to the number of priors that they have, so they are presented with a plethora of information at a bond hearing."
Other factors that lead to the release of a habitual criminal include preset bonds, where a defendant does not have to appear before a judge.
Other times court officials said officers don't appear in court themselves.
"All of us play a role in this and if any one of us drops the ball - all it takes is one of those get everyone waiting in line," said Sheriff Cochran.
While court officials and police have since opened dialogue about their frustrations, all offices involved do agree on one thing; the state prison system is actually the biggest contributing factor to enabling a repeat offender.
"The community thinks well, 'If you get 15 year sentence, you serve 15 years.' But they're letting them out at the Department of Corrections as fast as we're putting them in," Rich said.
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