Ankle monitors are useful to courts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ankle monitors are useful to courts

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

Lee County, GA (WALB) –   Lee County judges call house arrest and electronic monitoring a useful tool they'll continue to use, despite an Albany man's recent abuse of the system.

Judge James Sizemore revoked Jordan Harris's bond and house arrest after he was charged with shooting Walter Phelps at the P&P Garden & Hardware Center. Harris was wearing his electronic ankle bracelet when the crime occurred.

Judges say, they have to look at each case individually and make their best judgement and while they didn't want to question another Judge's ruling they did same you simply can't use house arrest in some cases.

It now looks like putting armed robbery suspect Jordan Harris on electronic monitoring may have been a mistake, but many judges like the option of house arrest and trust the monitoring service Lee County uses. 09:02:01 Smith

"We don't have a cookie cutter justice system, every case is not like every other case and every defendant is not like every other defendant. Not every house arrest situation is the same either," said Lee County Superior Court Judge Rucker Smith.

"Some people you may put on house arrest and confine them to their home, with the exception of home or work, other people you may banish them from a certain area you really don't want them locked in the house, but you want to know if they enter a certain county or area," said Lee County Magistrate Judge James Thurman.

 That's how Professional Court Services, the agency Lee County Superior Court contracts with saw it. Harris wasn't to be back in Lee County. Judges say confinement orders need to be specific. Municipal court's three page form spells out whether a defendant is to be on total lock down.

"I do think you have to put conditions on it, and I think you have to be very clear on your conditions," said Judge Smith.

Harris' case was handled in Superior Court. It ultimately comes down to dollars and cents, and electronic monitoring saves the county costing just $12 a day versus the $45 to jail someone.

"We have people that are not good candidates, and so you don't know it until you try," said  Thurman.

If it's a bond, the defendant typically pays for the service. In sentencing cases, it's typically the county that pays. The real savings is on medical expenses, the county isn't forced to pay for health care for defendants who aren't being held in jail.

Records of electronic monitoring for several cases in Lee County clearly indicate who is following the rules, and who had violated the conditions of their electronic monitoring.

Thurman said the service does alert him when terms are violated.

 

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