(SANTA ANA, CA) The Orange County Probation Department terminated its contract with Sentinel Offender Services, LLC on Aug. 1 after an Orange County internal audit revealed several instances of gross negligence. At the June 25, 2013 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Todd Spitzer highlighted this public safety issue.
“If we continue to use electronic monitoring, it needs to be fool-proof,” he said.
Sentinel provided Full-Case Management Supervised Electronic Confinement (SEC) and Home Detention Program Services utilizing a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. The audit reviewed 143 cases and revealed more than 15 instances of gross negligence. Some cases included Sentinel failing to track several program participants for periods of up to 28 days and failing to report program participants for repeatedly failing Breath Alcohol Tests.
“The findings of that report were anything less than stellar,” Spitzer said. “In fact, it was alarming. These untracked individuals posed an immediate threat to public safety, and I could not just sit back and watch.”
The realignment policy in AB 109 has burdened Orange County with public safety issues – such as jail overcrowding, which then leads to such alternatives as GPS monitoring. None of the violators profiled were AB 109ers; however, AB 109 adds to the already high jail population numbers, requiring many of those inmates to be released onto electronic monitoring. Due to these demands, Spitzer urged OC Probation to increase safeguards in the process.
“These incidents show why we cannot rely on such alternatives in lieu of incarceration,” Spitzer said. “We want to monitor the probationer. But we also need to monitor the monitors.”
While Orange County accommodates more inmates for realignment, Spitzer remains adamant about prioritizing public safety. “The Board of Supervisors is the watchdog of the County, and we are doing our job to protect public safety,” he said.