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Pastor’s warning on tagging offenders

Ankle monitoring bracelets for parolees and other offenders are still not being used more than a year after they were pledged.

Government passed legislation in 2005 allowing GPS monitoring tags to be used on individuals charged with firearm offences. Four years later Government announced it again in the Throne Speech.

Since March, after former Attorney General Kim Wilson participated in a well-publicised trial run of the technology nothing has been said publicly.

Yesterday the Joint Select Committee on violent crime and gun violence heard that meetings with the firm, Alliance Technologies Ltd, which set up Sen Wilson's trial run had continued until June, but since then there has been silence.

But anti-gang activist Pastor Leroy Bean warned the Joint Select Committee Government should be cautious about implementing the technology because he feared it could lead to more killings.

The committee first heard from John Tartaglia, the president of Alliance Technologies Ltd.

His company partnered with G4S, the largest international security solutions provider, and Satellite Tracking of People to bring the monitoring technology to the Island.

Alliance Technologies fitted out former Attorney General Kim Wilson with one of its bracelets for a trial run in March.

At the time Government said the tags would be used solely for bail purposes initially and the Department of Court Services would monitor the movements of wearers.

The Alliance Technologies system allows for inclusion zones to be programmed into the device so if a defendant has to be somewhere at a specified time and doesn't show up, Police will be alerted.

Equally, the authorities will know if a tag wearer enters a prohibited area, known as an exclusion zone. After the trial run Sen Wilson said that could prove especially useful where bail conditions require a defendant not to contact an alleged victim or witness before a criminal trial.

The tag has a fibre-optic strap and if it is tampered with or cut the authorities will immediately be alerted. Sen Wilson said she hoped the scheme would be extended to cover parole and probation. It could also be used in cases involving domestic violence orders.

Since their meeting in June, after submitting a bid in May for Government's Request For Proposal, they have been told nothing. Mr Tartaglia said it could be that Government chose another company. Yesterday a spokeswoman for the current Attorney General was unable to provide an update on Government's plan to implement the technology.

His company's pitch estimated implementing the technology would cost $700,000 a year for Government to hire Alliance Alarms. The company would provide 100 bracelets and manage the monitoring of parolees, or those on bail awaiting trial. The company would also set up the system within the Bermuda Police Service.

He added: “The technology would effectively and more safely reduce the prison population of low and middle risk criminals.

“It would mean a significant reduction in prison costs, which were approximately $21 million last year.

“It would help take a big bite out of Bermuda's gang culture as well because we would be able to monitor where they go. The courts could designate certain crime hot spots as out of bounds and the minute they step into those areas we would know and have an immediate response.”

Mr Tartagila said the University of Leeds, UK, found that when the technology is used on young offenders to enforce a curfew and exclusion zones it was 94 percent effective in changing the adolescents' behaviour.

“Every time these young men stepped into an exclusion zone, where drugs and gangs operate on this Island, we would be alerted,” he said. “Police would show up and stop and searches would take place. Gang members would not want this; the boy coming to their area would bring 'the man'. They would tell him to go away. This means the young boy would not be able to get involved in gang life.”

But anti-gang activist, and Cartel leader, Pastor Leroy Bean said he believed ankle bracelets could lead to more deaths.

“I don't have any evidence that tagging will lead to death but what I do have is life experiences on what happens when someone breaks a gang affiliation, and that is death,” he said.

He added that the tags could lead to “chaos”.

“If we start tagging these adolescents we might find adolescents coming up we don't even want to dream of.”

Trying it out: Senator Kim Wilson is fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet for tracking people who have been released on bail, when she volunteered to try out the device in March of this year.

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Published December 17, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 17, 2010 at 6:42 am)

Pastor’s warning on tagging offenders

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