Review of the United States Marshals Service's
Apprehension of Violent Fugitives

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-008
July 2005
Office of the Inspector General

Purpose, Scope, and Methodology

Purpose and Scope

The OIG initiated this review to evaluate the performance of the USMS in apprehending violent federal and state fugitives from FY 2001 to FY 2004.14 Although the ATF, the DEA, and the FBI conduct fugitive investigations, this review is limited to the USMS’s efforts. Our review focused specifically on violent federal and state fugitives because locating and apprehending the most violent fugitives is the main priority of the USMS’s fugitive apprehension program.15


The following is a summary of the methodology used to examine the performance of the USMS in apprehending violent federal and state fugitives. A detailed methodology is included in Appendix I.

We examined the performance of Deputy Marshals working individually or as members of warrant squads, district fugitive task forces, or RTFs in apprehending federal and state violent fugitives from FY 2001 to FY 2004, as well as the reasons for any differences in performance. We also surveyed each of the 94 USMS district offices on a range of topics pertaining to their fugitive apprehension activities. We received responses from 88 of the 94 (94 percent) districts. The questionnaire is included in Appendix II.

To examine the different approaches to fugitive apprehension, we visited 12 of the 15 districts that are part of the 5 RTFs, as well as 5 non-RTF districts. We interviewed Marshals, Chief Deputy Marshals, warrant squad supervisors, Task Force Supervisory Inspectors, Inspectors, Deputy Marshals involved with the Electronic Surveillance Unit, Deputy Marshals who investigate fugitives, WIN data administrators, and representatives from other federal, state, and local agencies who worked with the districts and RTFs to investigate and apprehend fugitives. We also conducted interviews with USMS headquarters personnel.

To compute the number of apprehensions per staff year, we reviewed USMS headquarters and district personnel time and attendance data on hours spent investigating fugitives. These hours included time for administrative staff as well as Deputy Marshals. We requested data from the USM-7 database for all time spent by USMS staff investigating fugitives for FY 2001 to FY 2004; however, the USMS could provide data only from FY 2002 to FY 2004. We calculated staff years by dividing the number of hours worked in a district or grouping of districts by 2,087 hours (the Office of Personnel Management equivalent of one “full time equivalent” work year). To compute the number of apprehensions per staff year, we divided the number of clearances or apprehensions of fugitives by the staff years applied to fugitive investigations. We also analyzed data from two separate databases:

The Electronic Surveillance Unit database. We analyzed this database and examined the number of fugitive investigations in which Electronic Surveillance Unit personnel assisted, as well as the number of arrests that resulted from this assistance.

The Warrant Information Network (WIN). Our analysis of WIN consisted of two parts – the number of fugitives apprehended and the number remaining at large. We examined warrants in WIN received before October 1, 2004, and cleared between September 30, 2000, and October 1, 2004. In our analysis, one warrant equaled one fugitive, even if a fugitive had multiple warrants in the system.

Although WIN contained a field that captured whether a district task force or RTF apprehended a fugitive, we learned that USMS personnel did not consistently enter data in this field when a task force was involved. Therefore, we analyzed RTF performance based on the districts that constituted the RTFs as a whole (for example, the Pacific Southwest RTF comprises the Southern and Central districts of California). Any analysis regarding fugitives cleared or apprehended is based on the performance of the districts participating in the RTFs because we could not analyze individual RTFs’ performance separately from that of the districts in which they operated.


  1. Previous OIG reviews of the USMS fugivite apprehension program are Follow-up Inspection of the United States Marshals Service's Fugitive Apprehension Program, I-2002-02 (January 2000) and Inspection of the Fugitive Apprehension Program in the United States Marshals Service, I-94-04 (September 1995).
  2. U.S. Department of Justice Fiscal Years 2003-2008 Strategic Plan, p. 2.97.

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