11 News Investigates Repeat Offenders

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

The Mesa County District Attorney's Office and the sheriff say the wheels of justice are spinning at a costly speed.

Habitual offenders in and out of jail on the taxpayer's dime, putting you and your family at risk.

Now the county is taking aim at recuding recidivism and taking steps to break the cycle.

Tammy Lee Reed taught first grade at Orchard Mesa Elementary but her battle with a meth addiction led her out of school and into jail; she's been arrested eight times.

Robert Haddon was a teen in trouble, a runaway, arrested for petty crimes..then drugs..and now more than 25 arrests later..he stands accused of sexually assaulting a 14 year–old girl.

Carlos Alcon is no stranger to the courtroom, he's been arrested more than 90 times since he was a teenager.

He pulled his pants down in a retail store, smoked pot in the park, had sex in broad daylight in downtown Grand Junction and tried to rob somebody wielding a pair of scissors.

Alcon told 11 News that when he's out of jail he lives as a transient but when he's in jail he has what he needs.

With tears in her eyes his mother told 11 News he's an alcoholic who needs help.

So why aren't these repeat offenders behind bars?

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger says jailing all habitual petty criminals like Alcon takes up prison space which is limited.

However, he says repeat offenders put the public in danger. If they don't get serious jailtime, he says they might think they can get away with their crimes.

He says his hands are tied and he can only charge petty offenders like Alcon with petty sentences. There is only a habitual offender law for felonies, not misdemeanors.

There's no way to tell how many Carlos Alcons or Tammy Reeds are roaming the streets of Grand Junction; there's no system to keep track of these revolving door criminals.

Hautzinger says most repeat offenders have an addiction to drugs and aclohol fueling their criminal behavior. He says these offenders don't need a jail cell but a room in rehab.

That's exactlty why Mesa County is starting to rethink the entire justice system.

Sheriff Stan Hilkey says if the community is going to pay taxes, they should expect the money to be used wisely.

The sheriff says law enforcement is looking at ways to redirect taxpayer dollars.

Just recently money meant to build another jail, went instead to pay for programs aimed at getting repeat offenders back into society and off the booking sheet.

"Some people interpret efforts to reduce recidivism as being soft on crime, its actually the opposite. If we're reducing recidivism that means we're reducing the number of victims out there," Hilkey said in an interview with 11 News.

Hilkey and Hautzinger agree that changes won't happen overnight, but
it may already be too late for people like Carlos Alcon.

Right now Alcon remains behind bars in the Mesa County Jail after he was arrested in court on Friday. He has at least six other cases pending. He'll be back in court in December to be sentenced for a trespassing charge. The District Attorney says he will now ask for prison time, possibly up to nine years.


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