BOULDER, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – A new policy requires Colorado authorities to respond more rapidly to alerts that parolees have tampered with their electronic monitoring bracelets, but parole officers can’t run out on every single alert issued by the system that tracks 1,400 former inmates in the state, officials said Tuesday.
The Department of Corrections released documents Tuesday showing it received 89,000 alerts from the bracelets during the last six months. Less than 1 percent of those – about 600 – were tamper alerts of the sort issued by the bracelet of Evan Ebel, the parolee suspected of killing state prisons chief Tom Clements last month.
In Ebel’s case, parole officers didn’t issue an arrest warrant until after Clements was dead and Ebel had already died in a shootout with Texas authorities.
“The officer made the determination that he was not going to immediately respond to that case,” Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan said. “There were other cases of greater importance he was working on at that point.”
Parole officials announced earlier this month that they will now respond to a tamper alert within two hours. Morgan stressed to reporters Tuesday that the agency cannot move as quickly on every alert issued by the system, and many don’t even indicate a parole violation.
“I want you to think of the scope of information that comes in on a daily basis that officers are required to analyze,” she told reporters at the headquarters of BI Inc., the company that makes the bracelets the state uses.
Morgan, along with a parole supervisor and a vice president for BI, stressed that the electronic monitoring system is only a tool for parole officers rather than a foolproof way to ensure released prisoners are complying with the terms of their parole.
For example, a bracelet may issue an alert that a person is late to the office, only to have that person arrive a minute later. Or it may sound an alarm that it is being removed during a scheduled appointment to replace the battery.
“It provides us one piece of information,” Morgan said. “That’s what it gives us. One small picture.”
– By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, AP Writer
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