High speed chases rarely put offenders in jail - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

High speed chases rarely put offenders in jail

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YAKIMA, Wash -- When criminals run from police -- they rarely spend much time behind bars for it.

Yesterday, Yakima Police tried to stop Juan Mendoza for speeding, but instead of stopping he took off. The chase ended with him floating down the Naches River in an effort to escape. Police grabbed him near the twin bridges.

This isn't the first time Mendoza has fled police. He already has one conviction on his record. Police are just glad yesterdays high speed ended with out injury.  Last fall, Blake Young crashed his car, and killed two teens, while fleeing  police. Both Young and Mendoza are examples of what Yakima Police Chief says is wrong with the eluding laws.

"There is no deterrent for running from the police," said Granato. "It's a win-win for the crooks. If they escape, they don't get punished. If they get caught, they don't get punished."

State Representative Charles Ross tried, with support of Granato, to increase the penalty for eluding police. His bill would have increased the jail sentence to 1 year for the first offense. Currently, first time offenders will serve between zero and sixty days, while second time offenders may serve up to 90 days in jail.

But Ross's bill died in the Washington Senate. Granato says it failed to pass because the State doesn't want to pay for extended prison sentences.

So criminals who flee police, even with previous convictions, are unlikely to spend much time in jail.