State operates ankle monitors for juveniles while N.O. revamps system

State operates ankle monitors for juveniles while N.O. revamps system
Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 1:38 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 2:05 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A teenager arrested for his involvement in an armed carjacking in Kenner while wearing an ankle monitor raises questions about the program's accountability.

"We certainly know he's on probation. We certainly know he's wearing an ankle monitor. We certainly know he's out here in the public committing robberies, robbing people of their vehicles," Kenner Police Lt. Brian McGregor said.

On Tuesday, Kenner police arrested a 15-year-old who allegedly helped someone commit an armed carjacking on West Louisiana State Street while the teen was wearing an ankle monitor. The teen was on probation out of New Orleans for a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle.

In January, New Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman shut down the city's ankle monitoring program. The move suspended the alternative to incarceration for dozens of adults using the system. But when it comes to children, the state issues ankle monitors to juveniles on probation.

"It is an active system. If they do violate any of the requirements of the program, we'll get an immediate alert and our staff is required to investigate the alert," Office of Juvenile Justice Deputy Secretary James Bueche said.

The system notifies a probation officer of a violation via email, and an officer usually responds to the emails within a few hours or the next day, according to Bueche.

Bueche could not give specifics about the 15-year-old arrested in Kenner due to confidentiality laws involving juveniles. But he said many children on the system only have a curfew to be at home by a certain time, which is determined by a judge, meaning the juvenile being monitored could roam anywhere until he or she is required to be back home.

"It's not going to notify us that he has a weapon or he is involved in any kind of criminal activity, but it will give us a general vicinity of where the juvenile is located," Bueche said. "It doesn't drill down specifically to an address but it will say a specific street or it will say a specific area."

With those GPS coordinates, law enforcement can look back at information collected to see if the juvenile may have been at the scene when different crimes were committed.

"The system stores as long as they've been on the program. We can go back and provide that. We just like to get some perimeters of time and area that they would be looking at," Bueche said.

The City of New Orleans says it is looking into bringing back the monitoring program but because of the police department's limited resources, the system would restart with juveniles only.

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