Florida County Suspends Home Confinement After Violator Kills Witness


Amid alarm that a lack of oversight in Orange County, Florida’s home-confinement division may have contributed to the execution of a witness in a home invasion case, Mayor Teresa Jacobs suspended the program and expanded the probe into what went wrong, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The program came under fire after a Sentinel investigation found that home-confinement defendant Bessman Okafor had potentially violated his curfew dozens of times, none of which was reported to a judge by the Corrections Department.

Effective immediately, judges may no longer order defendants in any case to home confinement, a widely used method for keeping tabs on defendants out on bond while they await trial and on those who have been sentenced. “My concern is that there is potentially a development of a culture of complacency that just cannot be tolerated when we are talking about public safety,” Jacobs said after a meeting with jail and judicial officials yesterday. During one of Okafor’s unauthorized excursions, authorities say, he shot three people, two of whom were witnesses in his home-invasion case. One, 19-year-old Alex Zaldivar, was killed. The Sentinel’s report launched an internal investigation of the program. Days later the county announced a parallel investigation by its Office of Professional Standards and a review by the National Institute of Corrections.

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