Who monitors the monitor? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Who monitors the monitor?

Walter Phelps survived a gunshot wound to the back of his neck Walter Phelps survived a gunshot wound to the back of his neck
Jordan Harris (Source: Dougherty Jail) Jordan Harris (Source: Dougherty Jail)

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  It seem nothing more than a misinterpretation of a Lee County Judge's order allowed an Albany man charged in two armed robberies to rob again.

This time police say Jordan Harris shot P&P Gardner and Hardware Center owner Walter Phelps. Jordan was wearing a GPS electronic monitoring device when police say he pulled the trigger, but now the man watching him says he wasn't confined to his home.

The February 20, 2009 robbery at the Flash Foods on Highway 19 in Leesburg and several robberies in Albany landed Jordan Harris in jail. Because investigators were looking for accomplices, the 90 day limit for a grand jury appearance expired, and Harris was given a bond hearing.

The bond order shows Harris was placed on house arrest with a GPS monitoring device last July and given a $100,000 bond. A 15-year monitoring industry veteran says Harris's every step should have been watched.

"You should be able to pinpoint not only his current location, but his past locations as well,
 said Patrick Wise of Wisdom Security Inc.

Professional Court Services, the agency Lee County Superior Court contracts with, did watch him leave his home on Samford Avenue in Albany over and over again for the last year. Jim Peck who monitors the service wouldn't talk on camera, but told us he understood the order to mean, Harris couldn't enter Lee County, but wasn't specifically confined to his home.

District Attorney Plez Hardin also wouldn't talk on camera, but told us that's not what house arrest means. It means confined to the home, not even allowed to step foot in your neighbor's yard.

"If you're on house arrest someone should be have some type of authority, any type of electronic monitoring, if it is indeed on the particular felon that person should be monitored by a someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Wise.

And Harris was, he never entered Lee County and when asked Tuesday to find Harris, Peck found him immediately.

Industry experts say the problem is these services are out-sourced and agencies don't communicate.  "It's out-sourced, trying to save a dime, trying to put a nickel here, so save a dime and at what cost?" asked Wise.

It cost Walter Phelps a bullet in the back, because prosecutors believe Harris was pulling the trigger when he should have been at home.

Just last week the Lee County Grand Jury indicted Harris on armed robbery charges. District Attorney Plez Hardin says he'll look to revoke Harris' bond Monday.

Harris was scheduled to be arraigned in Lee County Tuesday and remains in the Lee County Jail.


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