Court runs out of electronic monitors

At least two prisoners before the Cayman Islands court system in the past week were granted bail on charges against them, but could not be set free because they were unable to have electronic monitors affixed to their ankles as prescribed by the court.

The available monitors had apparently run out, court officials were informed.  The problem, according to Cayman Islands 911 Emergency Centre Director Brent Finster, is money.

“We have a budget of $239,000 for the lease of the devices in fiscal year 2013/14 [which the government has not approved yet],” Mr. Finster said. The same amount for funding of electronic monitors was approved in the 2012/13 budget year.

“The original budget request that I submitted in February 2013 … was for $302,000 for a maximum of 42 clients,” Mr. Finster said. “That budget request was cut back to fiscal year 2012/13 levels as [were] all of our budgets.”

The current budget for electronic monitoring equates to a maximum of 32 clients in the 911 center’s program simultaneously.

As of Wednesday, the center had 30 individuals on the electronic monitoring program and Mr. Finster said he expected the courts to add one more person onto the monitoring list Wednesday.

As of press time Wednesday, 911 had 26 suspects being monitored via the court system, three referred by police for monitoring and one referred by the prison service.

“The number of clients going on the program and off the program is fluid and changes almost daily,” Mr. Finster said. “I am told that both judicial administration and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are trying to locate funds to bolster the number of devices available to them.” 

Cayman has been using electronic monitors since January 2010 on people released from the custody of local police, courts and prisons.

Cayman’s 911 system mainly carries out the orders of those three entities in tagging released prisoners. 

Once an individual receives an electronic monitoring anklet, they are kept on a list by 911 – and that list is monitored from the emergency facility 24 hours, seven days a week. 

The monitoring system uses GPS technology to pinpoint a subject’s location. Parameters are set in each case as to where that person can go and where they can’t. If they step outside the acceptable boundaries, 911 officials are immediately notified and call the appropriate authorities.

Mr. Finster said there are frequent incidents where monitored individuals have stepped outside the areas in which they are allowed to travel. Some have been simple accidents, others have led to re-arrest.

The devices are waterproof and are not ever removed from the person’s ankle. They must be recharged for two hours out of every 24 hour period. If a monitored subject allows the batteries to run down, 911 is alerted.

The Caymanian Compass reported in February that some individuals were using tinfoil wraps around the devices to block GPS alerts issued when the monitored suspect stepped over the demarcated area.

Mr. Finster said at the time that certain technological upgrades would be required to correct the situation with the company that supplies the monitoring device.