Harris County DA: There are flaws in the ankle monitoring system

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by Rucks Russell / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 12 at 12:02 PM

HOUSTON -- Accused Lone Star shooter Trey Foster was not supposed to just drop off the grid. He was supposed to be wearing the electronic ankle monitor he was ordered to be fitted with as a condition of his bond.

He was missing for nearly two days.

The prosecutor wanted to know why Foster was not wearing the monitor.

“I think that there needs to be something else put in place with regard to the procedures with these monitors,” said assistant Harris County D.A. Alison Baimbridge.

It is up to a bond officer to make sure the defendant does what he or she has been ordered to do. It happens thousands of times a year, but with Foster something fell through the cracks.

Teresa May, the head of the Community Supervision Corrections Department (CSCD), said the county’s bond officers are over worked.

“We have somewhere around 10 officers and they have 250 to 300 cases each," May said.

Bond officers are supposed to send defendants to one of three vendors in Houston that supply and monitor the GPS ankle bracelets.

“We do the best we can with the resources we have,” May said. “Clearly there appears to be some miscommunication.”

EZ Monitoring manager Shawn Burnes said despite the flaws in the system, the devices themselves work just fine.

“When we get on our computer and check the unit we can tell if there’s been a violation,” Burnes said.

Baimbridge said most times the system works as designed.

“For the most part it seems to work. Most of the defendants get what they’re supposed to because they want to stay on bond and they don’t want to go to jail.”

The Director of the CSCD said her agency is completing a thorough review to find out what happened with Foster's case.

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