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Jacobs praises confinement report, says changes are needed

Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Tuesday she agreed with an outside consultant's final report that outlined problems and changes needed in the suspended Orange County home-confinement program.

The final report said the pretrial release program should be revived with better training and technology for those running it and stricter tracking and screening of those who take part.

"That report is just right on," Jacobs said. "We will never have a home-confinement program of the nature that we had in the past as long as I'm mayor."

The outside study was commissioned this spring, soon after the Orlando Sentinel disclosed that Bessman Okafor, a suspect in a May 2012 home invasion, had potentially violated the terms of his home confinement more than 100 times.

Okafor's violation alerts had gone unreported to the judge in his case, and on one unauthorized outing, police say, he shot and killed 19-year-old Alex Zaldivar, who was scheduled to testify against him in a home-invasion trial.

The Matrix report is the latest in a series of official responses to the Okafor debacle. The review, for which the county paid $100,000, concluded that a home-confinement program could work well in Orange County if it were "designed with fewer alleged offenders assigned, fewer assignees who are more likely to violate," and were equipped "with improved and more credible technology" that was more actively supervised.

Jacobs said certain dangerous defendants once eligible for release should not be, and the tracking technology needs to be upgraded.

"Had [those changes] been in place, I do not believe we would have seen what we've seen," Jacobs said.

The mayor said she expected for local judges to buy into the changes, but had no timeline for when the program could be revived.

dadamron@tribune.com or 407-420-5311. Twitter @dadamron.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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