Orange Co. to hire company to review home confinement program

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - It's been about one month since Orange County officials suspended the Corrections Department's home confinement program.

The county has approved hiring an outside company to review the system.

Orange County commissioners awarded a contract to Matrix consulting group to look into the problems surrounding the system that uses GPS monitoring to make sure criminals don't overstep their boundaries.

WFTV found out that the county will spend $100,000 for the review.

The review is going to encompass a wide range of issues, including what the judges consider when deciding home confinement.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs told WFTV Tuesday that she would like to do away with it completely, but legally speaking, the county might have to have some kind of program even if it's not the same as it was.

County corrections said the number of defendants on home confinement was down to about 30, which are about 200 fewer than the number that were on it before rampant problems with the program were exposed by a WFTV investigation.

WFTV’s investigation was spurred by the case involving accused murderer Bessman Okafor, who was violating his home confinement.  At the time, he was accused of killing Alex Zaldivara to prevent Zaldivar from testifying against him for an earlier home invasion.

That violation was the 109th alert of a possible violation from Okafor's home confinement ankle monitor, and every one went unreported. The home confinement workers never notified the judge, WFTV found out.

Jacobs told WFTV that the county's professional standards investigation and the jail's internal investigation should be finished in about two weeks and will become public at that time.

9 Investigates asked last month why some of the violent offenders who were put on home confinement weren't put on GPS monitors instead, so their every move would be tracked.

Kemar Phillips is back in jail on armed robbery charges, after home confinement workers reported he violated home confinement twice.

He's among only a few of the 54 violent suspects Channel 9 has been investigating, who have committed possible violations that have been caught and sent back to jail.

Eight of the 54 have now been ordered on GPS monitors

Seven of the 54 violent suspects only have to report to county corrections once a month. Another seven are back in jail.

Changes are pending for the others who have not yet resolved their cases.  

The county now wants to end home confinement.

Corrections chief Mike Tidwell, and county public safety director Linda Weinberg said they knew nothing about the problems, nor did they ask questions last year after the highly publicized case involving accused murder Okafor.