After receiving a pair of reports on its troubled home confinement program, suspended earlier this year, Orange County commissioners said it will not be returning for a substantial amount of time.
The home confinement program was halted after 19-year-old Alex Zaldivar was murdered. Zaldivar was scheduled to testify in an Ocoee home invasion trial on the day after his killing. The man accused of his murder violated the home confinement terms more than 100 times after his release from jail but was never questioned about it.
After listening to a presentation from the Matrix Consulting Group, Dr. Garrett Christiansen of the National Institute of Corrections told commissioners that there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will solve their problems with how and when to release accused criminals from jail before trial.
"The 'lock 'em up, throw away the key' philosophy really doesn't work as it relates to local correctional facilities, because average lengths of stay are common at about 30 days."
The county already knows from experience that putting people on home confinement with GPS monitoring, then not watching them like a hawk, will not work either. Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry said the home confinement program, in it's previous format, is no panacea.
"Strapping a GPS on someone without the proper tools in place gave people the illusion of safety with no safety involved. It was simply an illusion," he said.
Judge Perry and the county now want to look at a new type of risk assessment for each individual that is brought to the Orange County Jail before they consider bringing any type of home confinement program back.
"Some people, you can put 3,000 GPSs on them, and that's not going to stop them from doing horrible acts."
For now, most of the changes will have to come from a panel including Judge Perry, the state attorney, the public defender, and jail officials.
Without the home confinement program in place though, the original problem still remains -- defendants in criminal cases are entitled to bond, many times when it is a violent crime. Unless the State Attorney's Office begins fighting to hold more accused criminals in jail until their trial, another tragedy like the Zaldivar case remains a possibility.