About the series

This project examines the millions of open arrest warrants, many for violent crimes, that allow suspects to go free as law enforcement officers are forced to move on to new crimes with fresher leads.
The series also looks into what happens when people, predominantly from poor, minority areas, face open warrants and can end up in jail over charges stemming from an improper turn or failure to register a dog license.
The Columbus Dispatch and Gatehouse Media requested open warrant data from every state. Twenty-seven provided usable information. Other states either didn’t collect the data, didn’t consider them public records or could not provide information in a form that could be analyzed.
Reporters poured over thousands of case files involving suspects wanted on open warrants. They talked with victims, police and criminal justice advocates about the many unserved warrants. A team of reporters and photographers also spent a week in the world of warrants. They followed court clerks, SWAT teams, probation officers and judges in Franklin County to see how open warrants affected their jobs.
That week, 1,126 new criminal warrants were filed in the county court system.


Photographer | Joshua A. Bickel
Videographer | Doral Chenoweth III
Project editor | Kelly Lecker
Graphic artist | Justin Gilbert
Copy editor | Danny Goodwin
Print page designer | Michelle Wallenberg