Extradition: An unwarranted delay in justice?

Published 07/31 2014 06:59PM

Updated 07/31 2014 08:11PM

Houston County Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson discusses the benefits and challenges of the extradition process.
Houston County Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson discusses the benefits and challenges of the extradition process.
There are 50 different states and just as many laws to consider when it comes to extradition, a process Houston County Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson says works in favor of prosecutors and law enforcement.

"What happens if somebody breaks the law here and flees the jurisdiction, becomes a fugitive of justice?  So, in that sense, you have to have a procedure to get them back," said Anderson.

Just this wee David Pitts of Ozark was found and arrested in Florida after kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman and child.  And although he was arrested, prosecutors in Alabama must wait until he makes it back across the state line.

"As a practical matter, most of the time, individuals will waive extradition because it is their desire to either come back to either fight the charge or dispose of the charge, and they don't want to be sitting  in some jail in another state awaiting extradition," Anderson said.

Sometimes the process is quick, but in other cases, the person charged can refuse the extradition, creating a lengthy process, one requiring a governor's warrant to get the other state to send the person back where the crime was committed.

Officials say politics and domestic issues can pose as roadblocks to the process, and although Ozark authorities would like to see Pitts promptly brought to justice, they and others agree the extradition process is needed.

"Courts will go at length to ensure your rights and liberties are protected, and that’s just one of those steps to ensure that things are done the right way and that your rights are not violated," said Ozark Police Chief Tony Spivey.

We also spoke with District Attorney Doug Valeska, who says there's no need for people to be concerned about convicts escaping during the extradition process.  He says “they can run, but they can't hide,” and he says criminals are usually found quickly and brought to justice in those instances.

Police said David Pitts had not waived extradition as of Thursday afternoon.  They say he's still in a Florida hospital being questioned by investigators.   

At this time, there's no word on his condition, how he sustained his injuries, or when he will be extradited.

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