The last electronic ankle bracelet on a juvenile defendant in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court has been removed, according to the court.
Juvenile Court Chief Judge Candice Bates Anderson said the program officially ends Friday, but the last of about a dozen remaining ankle bracelets were removed last week.
“We are moving to reforms with a more holistic and interactive approach that will involve families and the community,” Anderson said.
The program over the years has been plagued with problems, including lack of funding, poor monitoring, changes in operators and criminal tragedy.
In a 2014 case, two 16-year-olds wearing electronic ankle monitors were arrested in the robbery and murder of pizza delivery driver Richard “Chris” Yeager, 35, and the robbery and beating of a 50-year-old schoolteacher the night before. Rendell Brown is serving a 40-year sentence for manslaughter in the killing. His co-defendant, Shane Hughes, was acquitted by a jury in the murder, but faces a re-trial in the armed robbery.
That case revealed spotty monitoring by the private company that the city hired to oversee the electronic devices, just one of many criticisms of the program that was later outlined in a report by the Inspector General’s Office. The program was later monitored by the Sheriff’s Office and New Orleans Police Department, but that also proved to be problematic for police agencies that are already stretched thin.
The program, which was once considered a reform itself, is now being phased out in favor of fresh new reforms at the court, Anderson said. The new reforms are designed to be more interactive, including having juveniles check in with counselors, as well as receive and respond to text messages.
The end of the program in juvenile court does not mean electronic monitoring – a method to enforce home incarceration – is being abandoned in criminal and municipal courts. Those courts can order electronic monitoring provided by a private operator.