Marion County prosecutor walking in offender's shoes

Posted: Jan. 26, 2013 3:09 pm Updated: Feb. 17, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Before making offenders in Marion County strap on an ankle bracelet that would monitor their every move, Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Redington wants to walk a mile in their shoes.

Redington had a GPS-monitoring bracelet strapped to his right leg last week. For the next week, Redington will wear the bracelet and every move he makes will be monitored by Supervised Probation Services.

"I want to see how it works," said Redington, who has been the county's top attorney since 1996. "I also want to be able to respond to any complaints that somebody has."

Redington said the county uses bracelet monitoring for some of its alcohol offenders. There are 10 people who are wearing SCRAM bracelets. SCRAM, which stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, bracelets have the ability to measure the users' blood-alcohol level around the clock. The GPS monitors that some people on probation will wear will act in a similar manner. The bracelet will report back to a database maintained by Supervised Probation Services every three minutes.

The program, Redington said, will target younger offenders.

"The statistics show that young offenders between 18- and 25-years-old who are unemployed and living at home are out causing trouble and make up a huge percentage of the crime rate," Redington said. "While we try to supervise them through probation and parole, we want to add another layer so that we can see where they're at at 3 o'clock in the morning. Obviously, their parents aren't keeping track of them."

Those who take part in the program will have to pay a $10 a day charge to use the service, Redington said. He said that offenders likely will be monitored for a 90-day period. The program would only be used on non-violent offenders.

"If you want to be on probation, this is going to be one of the conditions," Redington said. "You have to show that you can pay for it. We're going to see where you are every three minutes. There are a lot of other conditions for parole. If you have a substance-abuse problem, we're going to have you do treatment. With this monitor, we'll know if you're there or not.

"We're try to do a long list of things to get them straightened out. Part of the problem we have is that they say they go do their community service, but we're not sure they did. They say they go to AA meetings or other things. This will let us, for at least for the 90 days that they have it on, we can see on the map where they were and what they were doing."

Kurtis Sanders, a probation officer who works at Supervised Probation Services, said offenders could receive notifications through the bracelet if they are entering an exclusion zone. He said it's difficult to trick the system.

"They could probably get (the bracelet) off fairly easily, but that would generate an immediate alert," Sanders said. "Doing that would let us know to check out that offender."

Redington hopes his weeklong test will help him the most when he is in court one day and someone claims that they have problems with the system.

"I want to spend the next week thinking about how I would try to cheat it because that will happen," he said. "Someday when this comes up in court I can stand up and say to the judge, ‘Look, it's no trouble to wear this because I did it.'"