Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Sex predator probation tracking
Cause for alarm after sex offenders who are supposed to be tracked by the state weren't, and their monitoring devices were sounding signals of possible trouble. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the Case.
WSVN -- On a regular basis, Florida probation officers conduct what they call "sex offender sweeps." They show up unannounced to make sure people on probation are following the rules and arrest them if they are not.
Carmel Cafiero: "But this anonymous letter to Seven News claimed some probation officers from Miami-Dade did not follow their rules, and, as a result, no one was monitoring the activities of some sex offenders."
Those offenders were wearing monitoring devices like this that track their movements. Alarms go off if the devices are removed or if the person wearing it goes where he or she doesn't belong.
According to the letter, an on-call officer did not have a pager one night, so no one responded to 50 alerts. The Department of Corrections admits it did happen.
Bruce Grant: "I will tell you the ones we are monitoring we consider the most dangerous, and the courts do as well."
Bruce Grant is the assistant secretary in charge of community corrections.
Bruce Grant: "So if there are some periods of time, as you mentioned, where they are not accountable, then that is a pretty serious breach."
Our letter also outlined other lapses in security, which the department now admits sexual predator Hector Fernandez, on probation for lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between 12 and 15 years old, was not tracked for three days.
Sexual offender Alberto Matos, on probation for lewd and lascivious battery, sex with a victim 12 to 15 years old, was not tracked for 24 hours, and Eldridge Smith, another sexual offender was not tracked for seven days. He is on probation for sexual battery by an adult on a victim under 12. In each case, their monitors sent out alarms that were ignored.
Carmel Cafiero: "How significant are these lapses?"
Bruce Grant: "I would say they are very significant. It goes to the heart of what we do to ensure public safety."
The state says ten probation officers from the Miami-Dade Division have been disciplined and given written reprimands as a result of the security lapses. Meanwhile, sexual offenders are being fitted with new and improved monitoring devices, and they're being tracked out of a central station. Both things are expected to help make sure people who wear them are where they are supposed to be all the time.
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