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Tenn. county not tracking ankle monitors at night, on weekends


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Hamilton County Corrections Department does not have any employees tracking ankle monitors after regular business hours — a fact that at least one criminal has used to his advantage to get a head start on fleeing.

Ever since 2011, records show there have been no county corrections officials monitoring the GPS monitors from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays, or during weekends or holidays because of budget cuts, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported (http://bit.ly/2e0Fala).

Earlier this month, Christopher Padgett, a man on trial for first-degree murder, cut off his monitor and escaped around 1:40 a.m., authorities said. He had a head start on police because no county employee knew he was missing until 6 a.m.

Padgett has since been convicted, but remains at large.

Even if a county employee had been monitoring Padgett when he escaped, the employees would still have to get authorities to secure a warrant for his arrest, said Chris Jackson, director of the Hamilton County Corrections Department.

There are 24 people in Hamilton County using GPS monitors — mostly for misdemeanor charges. There are also 109 people wearing older monitors that only measure how far someone is from a box that is plugged into a power socket.

The county's monitoring practices also came under scrutiny in 1997, when 19-year-old Todd Peterson was gunned down by Evay Kelley, who was on house arrest for gun and drug charges. That death prompted the corrections department to expand their monitoring beyond just weekdays, but those adopted standards have since changed.