Enrique Marks Jr. settled the question of whether to extradite him from Brownsville, Texas, by turning himself in to Lake County authorities after four years as a fugitive. The larger question of how to handle similar cases in the future, however, remains unresolved.
There are times for government to pinch pennies, but the extradition of a person accused of molesting a young child is not one of them.
Authorities in Brownsville, Texas, set free Marks, 74, in October after Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell declined to extradite him. A memo in the case file cited "budget restraints" as the reason for not extraditing the suspect.
Marks was wanted on an active Lake County Class C felony warrant accusing him of molesting an 11-year-old Highland girl in 2009.
He was picked up in Brownsville in 2009 as well, and freed that time after Lake County declined to extradite him.
Extraditing Marks would have cost about $1,400, based on the $1 per mile agreement with the Arizona-based Inmate Services Corp. to transport fugitives arrested out of state.
The victim's mother even said she would have paid that $1,400 extradition fee herself so the accused man could face trial.
It shouldn't come to that, of course. County government should do what's right -- in this case, extraditing Marks so the criminal justice system can work the way it's supposed to.
Lake County Commissioner Fran DuPey, D-Hammond, was livid that Marks wasn't extradited. She convinced her fellow commissioners to agree to pay the cost of the extradition.
"Some poor kid has to go through this, and we're just saying that it's all right?" DuPey said. "Something is just not right here."
With Marks' surrender in Lake County, the focus now shifts to how to handle future cases like this.
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter is on DuPey's side. "If it's a prosecutable offense, I don't care where they are," he said. "They should be picked up."
Senior Lake Criminal Court Judge Clarence Murray said the court takes into account the class of crime, distance and prosecutors' recommendations when determining whether to extradite an accused felon. The court could change its mind and later choose to extradite someone, Murray said.
Victims and criminals should not be taught to believe that running away, far away, means escaping justice. Justice must be served.