ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates has uncovered major new concerns about how accused criminals are monitored, while they are free on the streets before trial.
Earlier this month, we first exposed holes in Orange County's home confinement system. Now, we have documents that confirm just how often program rules are broken.
We've also learned two corrections employees have been reassigned because of the concerns.
Questions about pre-trial monitoring have surrounded the murder investigation of Alex Zaldivar, an Orange County teenager killed last September.
Prosecutors believe Bessman Okafor murdered Zaldivar, the day before Zaldivar was set to testify against him in a home invasion case.
At the time of the murder, Okafor was free on bail and monitored on Orange County's home confinement system.
"He put his butt out there on the line, and the system failed him," said Rafael Zaldivar, the victim's father.
Home confinement systems tell authorities just one thing: whether the defendant is at home or not. Earlier this month, 9 Investigates asked why GPS monitoring – which would've traced Okafor's every movement – is not used in cases like this.
Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. told
us the higher cost of GPS monitoring is often a deciding factor for judges. But now, new documents reveal just how often Okafor broke the rules of his home confinement – without getting in trouble.
He had 109 curfew violations over about 2 1/2 months; such violations are times when he was supposed to be in his home but was not. They include one July 12 incident when Okafor was unaccounted for and out of his home for nearly five hours. In another violation, he broke the rules by being out of his home for almost four hours during the middle of the night.
And yet, despite being notified by the private monitoring contract, no one at Orange County Corrections ever told the judge in Okafor's case about those violations.
The Corrections Department has launched an internal investigation, trying to figure out when and if the ball was dropped in that critical line of communication.
At any given time, the department is monitoring about 220 people on home confinement.
The Corrections Department employees who have been reassigned – one permanently and the other temporarily – were responsible for overseeing the Okafor case.
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