USA: Utah's 'inability' to prosecute polygamists

Lilith Saintcrow
This article makes the point that lawmen can't stop going after criminals just because the number of criminals is "too great".
Oh, Readers, feel the agony of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who not only went on the Dr. Phil show but is now being raked over the coals for saying out loud that his office doesn't have the resources to prosecute polygamists.
Shurtleff reasoned that there are 30-40,000 polygamists in Utah, too many for him to prosecute and jail. He also claimed that 20,000 polygamist children would be left without parents.

One could carry Shurtleff's reasoning further and claim that if too many people are committing any crime in Utah, the AG should just quit seeking to put them in jail. If there were 30,000 people committing robbery in Utah, Shurtleff could supposedly decide that he simply didn't have the resources to go after them. How many drug dealers would there have to be before the AG decided to call off the dogs? What's the tipping point on the number of murderers that would cause Shurtleff to throw in the towel?

While Shurtleff's office deserves credit for investigating the financial dealings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and having a trustee appointed to oversee the FLDS trust, there is still much work to be done in terms of polygamy. Illegal activity is illegal activity and Shurtleff is being paid by the taxpayers to enforce the laws.

Shurtleff's comments seem particularly disingenuous in light of the fact that Utah has in the past found the resources to create a porn czar and regularly puts away people for significant periods of time for crimes as small as drug possession.

The AG's claim that the state would have to put 20,000 children on the welfare roles if polygamous parents were locked up ignores the fact that many of those children are already on the welfare roles in a fraudulent fashion. Furthermore, many of those children would probably be better off in foster homes, particularly the girls who are forced to marry when they are underage.

Shurtleff has said he wants to prosecute those who take underage brides, but one recent example shows that his office doesn't seem up to the task, and doesn't seem to be getting much help from the judicial system either. (Spectrum Editorial)

It's interesting to note that the large polygamist groups tend to use welfare fraud and their familial connections (no pun intended) to create financial juggernauts, like the trust recently taken from the control of Warren Jeffs. Perhaps the reason why polygamy isn't prosecuted enough is the same reason why white-collar crime isn't prosecuted enough: cash.

Note: Apparently the "hunt is on" for Jeffs now. The man lawmen can't find to serve him subpoenas in a civil case (he's accused of sodomizing his nephew and other stomach-turning abuse) is now being sought so they can serve him with papers about this trust and the "looting" of its assets.

posted by Lilith Saintcrow