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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

With summer finally here, police sources tell Eyewitness News more crimes are being committed by juveniles wearing electronic monitoring devices.

And in many of those cases, repeat offenders committing additional crimes are either tampering with or not charging the batteries in their ankle monitoring devices.

Wednesday afternoon at a Criminal Justice Committee meeting, city leaders and law enforcement officials all said that better monitoring is needed.

Instead of jail time, electronic monitoring devices are worn by low-risk offenders waiting for their day in court. But lately, it appears more of those offenders are still committing crimes.

'That they can be anywhere in the city, and that's acceptable, then why do we have them on a bracelet?' asked Councilmember Susan Guidry.

Under scrutiny inside New Orleans City Hall on Wednesday afternoon were law enforcement officials and judicial representatives. City leaders voiced concerns about the electronic monitoring system's flaws.

City Councilwoman Stacy Head talked about four police cases where some of the suspects were wearing the monitors.

'We know there is a breakdown because of the horrific incidents involving the deaths of people on electronic monitoring,' Head said, 'And children who have committed horrific crimes while on ankle monitoring.'

Last month, a 58-year-old Mid-City man was murdered. Police arrested a 13-year-old in the case after they say data from his ankle monitor placed him at the crime scene.

Last Tuesday, police say three juveniles were picked up in the 4000 block of South Saratoga Street in a stolen vehicle, officer discovered a stolen weapon inside. NOPD photos show two of the three suspects sporting electronic ankle monitors.

'I just know a little bit about some allegations but I'm not aware of any confirmation that what that story is, is true,' said Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman when asked about one of the police cases.

Gusman who is in charge of the program promised to track down answers.

'We indicated to her [Councilmember Head] that we're going to check into it and give her a written reply on what happened,' said Sheriff Gusman leaving the committee meeting.

Law enforcement officials say that currently 85% of those being monitored have no geographical restrictions. Those restrictions are left in the hands of judges. Councilmember Head questioned their judicial decision making skills.

'One of our most challenging issues is to monitor the use of discretion by the judges juvenile, magistrate, and criminal. Determine whether or not that fits what we're willing to pay for and if not, revoke this,' said Head.

ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman is a supporter of the program.

'Ankle monitoring when properly administered is one very effective and good tool to keep people who are low risk who aren't dangerous to the community particularly people pre-trial out of jail,' said Esman.

However, Esman warns that proper oversight is key.

'There have to be enough deputies monitoring each of these bracelets and there has to be recognition that we can still save a lot of money and enhance public safety if we allocate resources properly but that piece has to be there in order for it to work,' said Esman.

In many of those cases, repeat offenders committing more crime are either tampering with or not charging the batteries in their ankle monitoring devices.

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