Review of the United States Marshals Service's
Apprehension of Violent Fugitives

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-008
July 2005
Office of the Inspector General


Conclusion and Recommendations


The performance of the USMS in apprehending violent fugitives improved significantly from FY 2001 to FY 2004. The number of violent fugitives apprehended by the USMS and its state and local partners increased by 51 percent from 14,348 fugitives in FY 2001 to 21,600 fugitives in FY 2004. The number of violent fugitives apprehended per staff year also increased from 18 violent fugitives per staff year in FY 2002 to 21 violent fugitives per staff year in FY 2004. The improvement achieved by the USMS fugitive apprehension program represented a significant contribution to the Departmentís efforts to reduce crime and improve public safety.

Our analysis showed two main reasons for the increases in the number of violent fugitives apprehended. First, the USMS increased the staff years it devoted to fugitive apprehensions by 21 percent, from 911 in FY 2002 to 1,104 in FY 2004, and became more efficient in its apprehensions. Second, Congress directed and the USMS created five RTFs, which were effective in increasing fugitive apprehensions.

Notwithstanding these results, the number of violent federal fugitives at large increased by 3 percent from FY 2001 to FY 2004. We found several factors not within the USMSís control that accounted for the increase in violent federal fugitives at large. The number of violent federal fugitives sought by the USMS increased because the increased number of federal task forces throughout the country generated more federal fugitives. We also found that the USMS investigated more federal fugitives referred from other federal agencies, and that state and local law enforcement agencies requested more assistance from the USMS in apprehending fugitives.

We also identified three other factors, each within the USMSís control, which contributed to the increase in the number of violent federal fugitives at large. These factors were that not all districts assigned violent federal fugitive investigations to the task forces; the USMS did not fully change its focus from apprehending all federal fugitives to apprehending violent fugitives; and most districts did not enter data regarding their state fugitive investigations in WIN when the investigations were opened so that the USMS could fully assess its progress at apprehending violent fugitives at large. By addressing these factors, we believe the USMS can improve its apprehension of violent fugitives and reduce the number of violent fugitives at large.

The Department has proposed the creation of six additional RTFs. Our analysis of the fugitive apprehension data from the districts that make up the five existing RTFs compared to the non-RTF districts indicates that the six new RTFs can be expected to apprehend more violent fugitives, and we believe the creation of new RTFs is warranted. However, to maximize the effectiveness of the RTFs and the fugitive apprehension program in general, we believe that the USMS needs to consistently assign violent federal fugitive investigations to the RTFs and focus more on apprehending violent fugitives.

To further improve the USMSís effectiveness in apprehending violent fugitives and begin to reduce the number of violent federal fugitives at large, we recommend that the USMS:

  1. Establish goals and measures to track the USMSís performance in apprehending violent fugitives and its progress in reducing the number of violent fugitives at large.

  2. Require districts to enter state fugitive investigations in WIN when the investigations are opened by the USMS.

  3. Establish criteria for districts to ensure that violent federal fugitive investigations are assigned to the RTFs and other task forces.

  4. Analyze WIN data to ensure that the districts appropriately focus on violent federal and state fugitive investigations.

  5. Consider creating the six RTFs proposed in the Departmentís October 2004 Fugitive Apprehension Report.



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