Report: Some authorities stop search for suspects at state line

Fugitives avoid justice by moving to another ... 03:56

A new report exposes the danger of fugitives on the loose in American neighborhoods. USA Today reports some law enforcement agencies are refusing the chance to capture violent predators.

Over the past nine months, the paper has been looking into the extradition policies of cities all over the country. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, wanted criminals are crossing state lines and continuing to break laws, CBS News' Michelle Miller reported. How? Cities have made the calculated decision not to go after them.

Callie Morrow abandoned the Salem, N.J., home she shared with her husband Roosevelt nine years ago after finding him beaten to death inside.

The person convicted of murdering her husband is Dwayne Slaughter, a man who had been charged with robbery and aggravated assault five years earlier in Philadelphia. He jumped bail before he could be tried, but Pennsylvania authorities never alerted police in neighboring states.

Morrow said, "If Philadelphia had put it on the wanted list and put it all over the state and found out he was wanted, they would have locked him up."

According to a USA Today investigation, police and prosecutors across the U.S. are allowing tens of thousands of wanted felons to escape justice merely by crossing into the next state.

Brad Heath, USA Today's investigative reporter, said, "You can look at cities like Philadelphia, like Atlanta, like Little Rock - all high-crime cities where the police have said in 90 percent of the felony cases, we will not leave the state to retrieve a suspect. There are murder cases in the FBI database where the police have made an affirmative decision that if this suspect is arrested in another state, we won't get him."

The FBI's fugitive database - the National Crime Information Center - allows local law enforcement to identify if felons are wanted in other states. But in many cases, local police fail to input their warrants into the system if they have no intention of pursuing them.

According to FBI files obtained by USA Today, in 186,673 cases since May of 2013, police across the country have indicated they would not spend the time, money or resources to retrieve the suspects over state lines. In Philadelphia alone, that number is more than 20,000.

John Delaney, deputy district attorney of Philadelphia, said, "I know we have a significant fugitive problem. We're so close to other states that a significant number of our fugitives are arrested in those other states. We don't have the resources to arrest or fully prosecute every lawbreaker. Not only does it not make sense economically, it doesn't make sense practically."

Delaney says that, since 2010, Philadelphia police now automatically update all wanted suspects to the FBI database.

But for Morrow and thousands of other crime victims, that still offers little comfort.

"If they had did what they was supposed to do, my husband probably would still be living today," she said.

Prosecutors look at the ability to convict and severity of the crimes committed by fugitives to determine if they should be extradited.

Philadelphia's district attorney's office is currently reviewing the last 10 years of its decisions, but overall states are becoming less willing to extradite: Between August 2012 and May 2013, the number of felony warrants marked "non-extraditable" in the FBI database increased by more than 31 percent.