Less cases in Franklin County, mean more repeat offenders on the streets

PASCO, WA - Franklin County is clearing more cases off its books, by striking up plea deals on non-violent crimes. It may ease overcrowding in jails, but some are worried it's putting more repeat offenders back on the streets.

Bobbi Nelson has seen her fair share of crimes in her community... And often, it seems, by the same criminals.

"I see where they need to let them out and make room for the violent people, but meanwhile you're letting people out who are still committing crimes, they haven't learned their lesson," said Bobbi Nelson, a non-violent crime victim.

From taggings and car prowls in her neighborhood, to being the victim of a home invasion herself. It's why Bobbi says she's frustrated to learn, a record number of plea deals in Pasco is putting certain types of criminals back on the streets.

Police tell KEPR violent crimes have been cut by three percent in the past year. While NON-violent offenses are also down. And while a suspect may be arrested, they often cut a plea to lesser charges to get the case resolved.

It cuts court costs by not going to trial. But it often means the crooks get back to business that much sooner.

"It's frustrating for a patrol officer to go to the same address, he has already been to the week before and arrest the same person for the same crime over and over again," said Officer Jonathan Davis.

Bobbi's fear is that the cycle of crime will continue, until those responsible face stiffer penalties.. Ultimately putting her at risk.

"It's not their first rodeo out there, they are one up on you and never know when they are coming at you," said Nelson.

"As a police officer we have a desire to fix things, to make things right and it's frustrating when you can't do that," said Officer Davis.

It's why Bobbi says she's doing everything she can to protect herself.

"You feel helpless unless you reach out for help or pull together with your neighbors. you got to buck up and be responsible for yourself and others," said Nelson.

Pasco Police tells KEPR they are looking into forming even more neighborhood watch groups. They say it can be the single most-effective tool people can have to keep crime out of their community.