Thursday, Dec 5, 2013
Armed Robberies Task Force Sends Criminals to Other States
WILLIAMSON COUNTY -- There's a new crackdown after a surge of armed robberies at businesses in the Metro East. Law enforcers are using a decades old federal law to send criminals far from home, in hopes of deterring crime.
The new initiative comes from a task force that includes Southern Illinois' federal prosecutor, state police and the FBI. It's been in place for about a month now and they've already used it in three cases.
Instead of sending armed robbers to Menard, the maximum-security prison near Chester, they're working to lock them up hundreds of miles away.
"[It] has to be armed robbery of a commercial establishment, not a person," U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said.
Under a federal statute, the Hobbs Act, prosecutors can send away prisoners who commit armed robberies at places like convenience stores, gas stations or restaurants, because it interferes with interstate commerce
The Williamson County Jail holds inmates who commit crimes in the county. They have video conference rooms for friends and family.
Captain Gary Tyner has seen the difference those visits can make in prisoners' behavior.
"If [they know] everything's going well at home, don't worry so much about what's going on outside, worry about what's going on in here," explained Tyner.
Some critics argue sending them away won't deter crime because criminals don't think about consequences anyway.
However, prosecutors do expect new indictments in the coming weeks.
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