Last month, Joe Shaw of Houston snipped off an ankle monitor that had tracked his whereabouts for 18 months after he was paroled for an attempted capital murder conviction, reports the Houston Chronicle. He discarded the device Jan. 14 in an apartment where his girlfriend was found dead with a bullet to the head. He is charged with murder. A few days later, a high-risk sex offender, Timothy Rosales Jr., removed his ankle monitor and fled from a halfway house in Houston. He had been tethered to his device since being paroled on two aggravated assaults in 2007. He remains on the lam.
These parolees are among a growing number of offenders forced to wear ankle bracelets. They range from the famous like domestic diva Martha Stewart to the infamous like former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak (accused of plotting to kill her romantic rival). The number of Texas parolees being tracked with ankle monitors has mushroomed to nearly 3,000 in two years. The monitors are far from foolproof. In the last two years, arrest warrants were issued 632 times for “tamper alerts” involving parolees “after business hours.” The tally does not include warrants issued during work hours, nor alerts that did not generate arrest warrants. While electronic monitors are an increasingly popular tool for law enforcement, the public may be unnerved by how easily the plastic straps can be shed. All it takes is a quick snip with some sturdy scissors.