Tue July 3, 2012
New electronic alert system aims to prevent probationers from committing crimes
The Department of Corrections will soon implement a new electronic alert system designed to prevent potentially dangerous probationers from committing crimes after they're released from prison.
If this new group notification system had been in place a year ago, it might have prevented the murder of a pregnant woman in Milwaukee last August. One of the three teens responsible for the crime would likely have been in detention instead of trolling the streets in a stolen car looking for someone to rob. The system would have notified a group of parole and probation agents in June that 17 year old Jimmy Scales was no longer on an electronic bracelet and wanted to turn himself in. Stephanie Hove is the regional chief of the Milwaukee Juvenile Community Corrections office. She says under the new system, that situation will trigger an alarm: “It's an enhanced notification system for youth under electronic monitoring and under the new system an automatic alert will be sent electronically to a pre-designated group of staff who will have ready access to the information. We will have a schedule for checking that mailbox and the alerts and they'll be a process for responding to the alerts.”
That's not what happened, when Jimmy Scales called his probation agent and said he wanted turn himself because his mother had thrown him out of the house. Instead of an alert to a group, only one agent got the news; he left the office before Scales showed up. Scales waited and then left, and two months later took part in a murder. Technicians are now installing the new group alert system on computers and Hove says it should be up and running before the end of July.