BOISE -- Every day, warrants go out for suspects of crimes from theft to murder. Some of those suspects will never be brought in to face their crimes if they flee the state, sometimes simply the county.
Nationwide, KTVB's partners at USA Today found around one out of six felony warrants nationwide has an instruction not to extradite or bring a suspect back if they're caught in another state. Here in Idaho, KTVB found numbers are closer to one out of three.
33% of Idaho felony warrants offer no return
Nationwide, 186,873 warrants have an instruction not to extradite or send inmates, if caught out of state. Of those, 1,021 are "no-return" or "no-extradite" warrants are in Idaho, according to FBI data.
In percentages, those numbers equate to almost 16 percent of all warrants nationwide are "no-extradite", and in Idaho, it's twice that at almost 33 percent.
In Idaho, charges where no extradition is requested have included arson, theft, drugs, forgery, escape and probation violations. Nearly 15 percent of all sex-crimes warrants requested no extradition, and around a quarter of all violent crimes warrants request no extradition.
In the data obtained from 2013, no death-related warrants, like for murder had that request, meaning no matter what, in Idaho, if charged with a death, a person would have been brought back if found elsewhere.
Prosecutors evaluate each case individually
Prosecutors and sheriffs in Idaho say they look at each case to decide how far they'll pursue a suspect based on societal and monetary costs.
"We look at each case individually to make sure that we are assessing public safety and the cost to the taxpayer and making that balance and deciding whether or not to extradite," said Jan Bennetts, Ada County Prosecutor's Office Chief of Staff.
Ada County spent $138,681 last year bringing suspects back (not including salary costs that may be associated with sending deputies to pick people up).
"Sometimes it can cost upwards of $5,000 for one person to extradite from Kansas, or Michigan, or somewhere further away from Idaho," Bennetts said.
Ada County does ask for more suspects to be returned than most Idaho counties; only 7 percent of felony warrants have that "no-extradite" label.
"There are many factors we look at in determining whether we're going to extradite from another area in the country... What kind of case is it? Is there a victim? Is there restitution? Is there a high bond?" Bennetts said. "We look at criminal history of the person and the type of violent nature of the crime. We kind of balance public protection with how much is it going to cost to bring this person back."
A unique resource Idaho and other Northwest states have is a shuttle network of 16 states where police departments and sheriff's offices will work to move low-risk, wanted inmates for free or on the cheap.
Canyon County sometimes won't extradite from another county
On the other end of the spectrum from Ada County, Canyon County averages a high 37 percent of warrants with "no extradite" requests. Last year, Canyon County spent $52,716 on extradition, so about one-third the amount Ada County spent.
"It's a capacity problem. We don't have capacity in our jail. We're always at full or over our capacity," Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said.
If it's a serious charge, like kidnapping, rape or murder, Donahue says he'll go nationwide to pick someone up. If it's a lesser charge, Canyon County is far less likely to pursue a person out of state.
"If it's a grand theft, burglary, maybe a fraud, and they're in Oregon, that's going to be low on our priority list to extradite those people in because of capacity of our jail and circumstances of the case," Donahue said.
On top of no out-of-state extradition on many cases, Canyon County says it won't even pick up some of its suspects just one county over, in Ada County.
"We're not extraditing a lot of warrants out of Ada County. I mean, it's 10-15 miles, and we're not doing it because we simply have no room," Donahue said.
Former Idaho Attorney General weighs in
Former Idaho Attorney General Dave Leroy says while Idaho's numbers for no-extradite warrants are higher than the national average, they aren't necessarily alarming because there are overall fewer cases, lower crime rates and more case-by-case decisions made than you'd see elsewhere.
"For the most part, the public's interest is protected in these decisions. They're simply made on a case by case basis, often in rural counties with few resources," Leroy said.
Leroy also echoes the cost-benefit analysis made by prosecutors and police for each and every case, saying sometimes it's simply not worth the cost (either to society or in terms of money) to bring someone back.
"It's probably not politic to say so, but sometimes it's in the best interest of the public not to bring a criminal back to a remote location, or to any location whatsoever," Leroy said. "In fact, there have been stories nationally about jurisdictions that export their problems. When I practiced law in New York City, we could often get a very favorable plea bargain if the prosecutor would make us an agreement that my client, who'd committed a felony, would simply be in New Jersey by 5:00 p.m. and never come back to New York."
Look up your county's warrants
To check your county's percentage of "no-return" felony warrants, use the interactive tool below (unavailable on mobile).