Court Programs uses state-of-the-art technology from SecureAlert to track their clients. The units enable the SecureAlert monitoring center to verbally communicate directly with the client and establish a three-way call with the defendant's local officer. An exclusion/inclusion zone can be programmed, and real-time details about an offender's location delivered. The daily cost to the defendant ranges from $8 to $15.
GPS monitoring can be a win-win for all parties involved. The defendant, who is innocent until proven guilty, can maintain his/her job while awaiting trial. The victim is assured that the defendant's movements are being monitored. The taxpayers avoid having to pay approximately $85/day to house them at the jail.
But it's not a win-win if the monitoring company doesn't do its job and notify law enforcement and the Court when a defendant violates their conditions of pretrial release (or probation).
In talking with members of the court system, I received almost overwhelming approval of the job that Court Programs does. With the exception of occasional concerns about slow service in getting inmates set up with their devices on weekends, they do a good job in providing this much needed service.
The following two Orange County sex offenders have fled this country to avoid prosecution:
Lewis Lopez-Moya [Honduras]
Lewd/Lascivious Battery (2 counts)
Lopez-Moya's victim, whom he admitted to sexually assaulting, was 14 years old when the offenses occurred in November, 2009. He was granted bond in the amount of $10,000 by Judge Marc Lubet on 12/17/09, put on GPS monitoring through Court Programs, ordered to turn in his passport (which he did on 12/18/10), restricted to Orange County, ordered to have no contact with the victim, and had a curfew imposed. His conditions of release were modified in February, 2010 to permit daytime travel to surrounding counties for work purposes only.
On March 15, 2010, Lopez-Moya's defense attorney was permitted to withdraw from the case. "Irreconcilable differences" was cited as the reason.
On or about March 24, 2010, Court Programs lost contact with the defendant. That same day, an Order to Take Into Custody was entered, citing that the defendant had knowingly or intentionally altered or tampered with the device. The bond was forfeited.
On March 25, 2010, the bondsman filed a motion to have the bond forfeiture rescinded, citing the failure of Court Programs to adequately notify the bondsman and the Court of defendant's having violated the terms of pretrial release as follows:
Pursuant to the CPI FL [Court Programs Inc, Florida] tracking records, for weeks upon weeks, the Defendant did not reside at [address], Orlando and had been breaching his curfew. CPI never informed the surety [bondsman] of these breaches and never provided notice to this Honorable Court. As such, the Court's directed program in which the surety had to utilize and rely upon was in breach (emphasis mine).Attached to the motion was dozens of pages of tracking data, together with two maps that showed that the defendant traveled to Brevard County and was last "pinged" suspiciously close to the Melbourne International Airport.
Pursuant to the CPI FL tracking records, for long periods of time the Defendant's GPS tracker showed that the monitoring was "UNAVAILABLE." The signal for "UNAVAILABLE," usually signifies that the Defendant is or has been tampering with the GPS monitor. CPI FL and Court Programs Inc failed to not only inform the surety, but failed to take appropriate action against the Defendant in which they had been secured by this court to secure.
A hearing was held in July and Judge Lubet granted the bondsman's motion to return the money to him.
Selami Duman [Turkey]
Solicitation of Minor via Computer; Travel to Meet Minor for Unlawful Act; Lewd/Lascivious Exhibition Using Computer (2 counts)
Duman is a Turkish citizen and was granted a $30,000 bond on June 16, 2010 by Judge Jeffrey Arnold. He was released two days later on GPS monitoring through Court Programs after surrendering his passport.
On July 1, 2010 a hearing on the defendant's motion to have his passport returned was denied. He faced deportation because his employment had been terminated as a result of the arrest and he was unable to obtain a new visa in order to seek employment.
On July 4, 2010 the GPS device either malfunctioned or it was disconnected. It took Court Programs four days to notify the bondsman that they had lost track of the defendant.
On July 8, 2010, an order was drafted to have the defendant taken into custody.
On July 12, 2010 an Order to Take Into Custody was entered, citing that the defendant had allowed his device to power down on June 18th [this must be a typo on the paperwork - other documentation says it was July 4th] and that all attempts to contact him had failed.
The monitoring device was mailed back to Court Programs with a return address in Turkey.
These defendants either traveled on someone else's passport, used a forged a passport, or managed to secure a duplicate from their governments. We are curious to know how they got out of this country.
Chief Judge Belvin Perry issued Administrative Order 2008-27 on 12/31/08 that governs the use of GPS and SCRAM (alcohol) monitoring devices. It does not specify a provider for these services.
Court Programs is a privately held company that provides the majority of GPS monitoring services in the county for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. A search of Orange County's Contracts & Purchasing Division records turned up no formal contract. CourtWatch has also been unable to locate a formal Memorandum of Understanding between them and the County, the Court or the Corrections Department.
We are concerned that there is little to no oversight of this company as it is tasked with monitoring some dangerous offenders in our community. While Court Programs has been very successful with nearly all of their clients, even being accused at times of being too aggressive in reporting infractions, two individuals accused of sex crimes against children will most likely never be held accountable for those crimes.
More attention to this matter is needed. Some believe that the Ninth Circuit is responsible for overseeing this matter. Others believe that the County Corrections should handle it. There is a gap somewhere that needs to be plugged. The citizens need to have more leverage and the ability to impose sanctions upon GPS providers when things go awry and our defendants go astray.