Members of the City Council Criminal Justice Committee spoke out Wednesday about recent failures of electronic ankle monitors, devices that are designed to improve public safety.
“We know there is a breakdown because of the horrific incidents involving the deaths of people on electronic monitoring," Councilwoman At-Large Stacy Head said, “and children who have committed horrific crimes while on ankle monitoring, either with tampered monitors (or) monitors where the batteries were not charged."
The most alarming incident was the murder of a 58-year-old man during a robbery attempt last month.
Authorities arrested and charged a 13-year-old boy after they said data from the juvenile’s ankle monitor placed him at the scene of the crime in Mid-City.
Although the boy lives several miles away in New Orleans East, Orleans Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, whose office oversees the program, said the suspect didn't violate terms of his monitoring.
“There weren't geographical restrictions placed upon him,” Gusman said. “He did have a curfew, which he was maintaining the curfew.”
According to sheriff’s officials, 85 percent of the 124 people currently wearing monitors do not have limits on where they can move about the city, a point that stirred strong reaction Wednesday.
"I'm gonna second guess the decisions of some of the judges who have let people out with parameters that make absolutely no sense to me as a layman," Head said.
Gusman said there are some cases where the program has worked.
"We have seven that resulted in arrest, that we were able to pinpoint their location and a crime occurring at the same time," he said.
But as the problems mount, including the deaths of people wearing ankle monitors, Head said something has to change.
"We're not using this tool and we're spending an unbelievable amount of money to not use this tool well," she said.