Hank Investigates: Electronic Monitoring Bracelets - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Hank Investigates: Electronic Monitoring Bracelets

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Have you seen these people? This man was convicted of child pornography. This man of assault and battery. He’s charged with possession of drugs. This one with dealing drugs, impersonating a police officer. Assault and battery.

They all might have been kept behind bars, but instead they were allowed stay on the outside wearing monitoring bracelets.

Problem is they disabled them, or just cut them off. And now all these people are missing. But you're only seeing their faces now because we finally convinced state officials to make them public.

What's more our investigation found it happened 94 times last year drug dealers, sex offenders, violent criminals and bad guys all issued ankle bracelets under the supervision of the Massachusetts Probation Department simply took them off and took off.

Inside the Mass Probation Department's high-tech monitoring center officers saw electronic connections were broken. Alerts flashed on the screen. Arrest warrants were issued. But the criminals were off their radar. Gone.

Paul Lucci, Deputy Probation Commission

"We don't know where they are once it's cut."

How many are at large right now? Probation officials didn't seem to know! It took the PR person a month to send us this dismissive letter:

"At this time, I am not sure we can commit our resources to retrieve the information you have requested."

Experts say: that's unacceptable.

Lael Chester,Citizens for Juvenile Justice

"Either its unprofessional that they're not tracking it, or it's unprofessional that they're not sharing it. Either way, they have to know, they should know, and they should share it. There’s no reason not to."

After repeated requests, probation finally sent us another letter. This one said "this information was challenging to find" but they'd counted 14 criminals who had cut off their bracelets and were currently at large.

We wanted to know WHY getting this information had been so difficult.

HANK:

We were told "At this time, I am not sure we can commit our resources to retrieve the information you have requested."

Paul Lucci, Deputy Probation Commission

"I didn't say that!"

Suddenly, off camera, probation's public relations person ended the interview.

HANK

"You're telling him to take off his microphone?"

But more important who are the people still on the lam? The ones who might be on the bus with you or renting your apartment or visiting your playground? That the department lawyers didn't want to tell us.

HANK

"Why wouldn't it be standard, if someone has cut off a bracelet, and is at large, to make that public?"

Atty. Liz Tavares, MA Probation Department

"Our agency is not the agency that disseminates that information."

Really? Seems like they can if they want to. We found this 2003 press release straight from the probation PR department, it names their "most wanted" fugitives and this similar most wanted list from fall river probation just a few months ago. Photos. names. Everything.

And now after our inquiries, we have learned probation officials have decided going public is a good thing. They're starting a new statewide most wanted list for criminals on the run. And it will include those who have illegally removed their bracelets.

(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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