Missouri’s attorney general says KC’s “catch and release” of criminals must end

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Attorney General's office is getting more involved in fighting violent crime in Kansas City.

A unique partnership is helping put more criminals behind bars.

Three prosecutors from the AG's office have been designated as special Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Kansas City.

They will focus on charging felons in possession of guns, carjackers and other violent criminals in federal court, where they're more likely to spend serious time behind bars, instead of getting released back on the streets because of jail crowding issues.

Already, the extra prosecutors have resulted in a dozen federal indictments in the last six weeks.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt says he expects to get 100 bad guys off the streets every year through this effort.

"That is one of the challenges that we are facing here in Kansas City is that criminals are being put in jail and then let out," Schmitt said. "That can’t stand. That’s not a solution to the problem."

Police Chief Rick Smith says Kansas City is not in the same situation as comparable cities when it comes to fighting violent crime because of a shortage of jail space.

Those familiar with the mass shooting suspects in Kansas City, Kan., tell FOX 4 both should have been behind bars on Jackson County charges. But instead, judges recently released both of them on bond.

Law enforcement sources believe jail capacity issues likely were a factor in those decisions.

Missouri lawmakers also are expected to consider revising the laws against carjacking, making it easier for prosecutors to charge the crime and increasing the penalties for even attempting it.

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