Justice System Choices Baffle Public

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The inner workings of the American justice system continue to baffle the public.

The latest buffoonery involves two suspected felons -- one walks the streets, the other is locked in the Payson Gila County Jail.

What's confusing is that the gravity of the alleged offenses committed by the free man is equal to or greater than that of the man jailed.

Rigoberto C. Arrazola was released Jan. 13 on $35,000 bond, despite the fact he is charged with killing three members of a Payson family in a Beeline accident last summer.

Reed Hatch, suspected of running down a Department of Public Safety officer in August, who has since been released from the hospital, remains in jail on $100,000 bond.

Arrazola has been charged with three counts of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and four counts of endangerment.

Hatch has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving a fatality or serious injury, DUI-impairment, and DUI with blood alcohol level higher than .08.

Since bail is designed to guarantee the appearance of a defendant in court at the time the judge directs, let's look at Hatch's and Arrazola's backgrounds.

Hatch is an American citizen who has lived in Payson most of his life, went to school here and has a mother, sister and brother living here. His ties to the community are considerable.

Common sense would dictate he'd probably show up in court when the judge directs him to.

On the other hand, Arrazola is a citizen of Mexico, in this country on a "green card" working permit.

Even though he lists himself as a "laborer," he holds the registration to a $50,000-plus Lincoln Navigator. That's suspect in itself.

If convicted at his trial, Arrazola faces a lot of prison time. Once released, as a convicted felon, he will be automatically deported to Mexico.

So, why should he stay in the United States?

The $35,000 he forfeits, or possibly only $3,500 if he posted a 10 percent surety bond, is a small price to pay for his freedom in Mexico.

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