In Tennessee, an audit run within the last several months has revealed shocking details about the neglect of parole officers and the probation department in keeping a watchful eye on prison released, GPS monitored high risk offenders. In the state about 800 criminals are electronically tracked, the large majority of which are sex offenders. With such a high percentage, why has even one of them been found within an off limits zone (as in a school or daycare)? Alerts (usually via text) are sent to sex offenders’ probation or parole officer as a red flag when they are in predetermined, child inhabited areas (or other places) they should not be. The Tennessee audit found that not only were most of these alerts largely ignored but also less than 20% were actually followed up or carefully examined.
As far back as July 2010, monitored sex offender Christopher Frederico was GPS tracked and checked in on by officers after he hadn’t done any of the things required by law after release from prison—polygraph testing, payment of state supervision dues, showing up for rehabilitation treatment classes for sex offenders. Not only that—he was currently residing next to a daycare facility. When parole officers did a search of his home, two children were found forcibly held in his crawlspace and taken safely away. Frederico was charged again.
In April 2011, criminal Floyd Craig, convicted of his first wife’s murder in the ‘70s and sexually molesting a young girl in the early 2000s, was found living with a current wife who conducted a daycare out of her home. He too, like Frederico, had declined to follow the same state requirements for GPS monitored, prison released sex offenders.
Why, why, why?
The audit stated the main reason for all the oversights as being severe understaffing of parole and probation officers—too many criminals; not enough officers to go around. The maximum allowed number of cases in theory is 25 per officer; in reality each parole or probation officer covers about 40.
The burden of monitoring and GPS tracking sex offenders currently falls to the Tennessee Department of Correction—instead of (as previously was the case) the Board of Parole—who now has one year to correct this predicament before coming due for another audit.