A Letter from Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase

There has been much discussion about rules that went it effect July 1, 2019 regarding which inmates can be held on arrest warrants and others may just be issued a summons and released. The criteria put in place by the Missouri Supreme Court indicates if a person has no history of failing to appear in court and no history that makes them a threat to the community they could be released or just issued a summons. 

With this criteria put into place by the Missouri Supreme Court  someone could steal from you today or be arrested for possession of methamphetamine and only be issued a summons. Many Judges in other counties are not issuing warrants and those people have been released and are still racking up more victims as they steal from more and more people.

 I have received all warrants I have requested by Douglas County Prosecutor and Judges, however there have been a few released during the new mandated 7 day bond hearing because they did not meet the criteria listed above.  I know one person was arrested on Thursday for possession of stolen guns and a stolen truck and released on Monday and she stole another vehicle in Howell County on Tuesday. 

I believe that people in Douglas County have the right to live here without fear of those that commit crimes against citizens being  turned out to roam the streets so they can victimize again. 

It appears that the Missouri Supreme Court worries more about the rights of those that commit crimes then they do about the victims and good Citizens of the County.  If we continue to follow this system, there will be no consequences for one’s actions of breaking the law and we will only continue to generate more victims. 

I believe the Citizens of Douglas County have the right to not have their property stolen without consequences for the offender. We have the right to not see the person that just stole from us walking on the street; we have the right to take our kids to Walmart and not have people walking around high on meth everywhere; and we have the right to demand those that commit crimes be punished. 

The only way we will get this changed is through legislation and by the voice of the people. I have spoken to State Representative Karla Eslinger who represents Douglas, Taney and Ozark Counties and she welcomes the opinion of the public on this matter.  You may email her at Karla.Eslinger@house.mo.gov,  or phone# 573-751-2042 and advise her of your opinion on this matter. 

Please also contact Senator Mike Cunningham: Mike.Cunningham@senate.mo.gov or phone# 573-751-1882 and advise him of your opinion on this matter. 

I have also spoken to a representative from the Governor’s Office who has expressed that Governor Parson wants to do what’s right to protect the Citizens of Missouri.  I would encourage you to also send an email to the Governor by going to governor.mo.gov and filling out the contact form and express your concern for this lack of justice for the people.  

Here are the specific areas that need addressed immediately:

1. HB192 was passed so now an inmate is not required as a part of their probation conditions to repay the counties for the cost of their incarceration as they have had to do in the past. 

2. Governor Parson promotes the Justice Reinvestment Project which removed mandatory minimum prison sentences for repeat offenders on most crimes. Before, the amount of a prison term served was based off the amount of times you reoffended and it increased the more you reoffended. Now they will do little to no time.

3. Supreme Court Rules that were implemented July 1, 2019  recommends to Judges to issue summons for  FELONY offenses if a person has always shown up to court or has not committed violent crimes, ie: release on drug charges, burglaries, felony property damage ( I consider those violent but many courts do not) 

4. The State of Missouri budgeted over $90 million in 2018 for Probation and Parole to supervise those on probation and parole. Before, if a parolee violated their terms of parole a warrant was issued and they were sent back to prison. Now we can no longer get a warrant for violations to include using drugs unless they commit a new crime. If they commit a new crime, I will get a warrant, so why do we need probation and parole? Use that $90 million to start building new prisons to keep these criminals locked up. 

We, the law abiding Citizens of Douglas County, must take a stand and let our Representatives, Senators, and the Governor know we want consequences that fit the crimes. 

Douglas County Sheriff 

Chris Degase