It's the job of state probation and parole officers to keep a close eye on convicted criminals, but in some cases the people they claimed to be watching were actually dead.
That is just one of several findings in an audit critical of the way Tennessee is supervising its released criminals.
It also found workers were not providing adequate supervision to those violent criminals who were still living, and the comptroller said the findings jeopardize public safety and show a waste of taxpayer dollars.
"They were wasting taxpayer dollars, in our opinion, or at least an abuse of taxpayer funds by spending time on dead offenders," said Deborah Loveless, assistant director of state audits.
In 82 documented cases, the probation and parole officers were actively monitoring people who were dead - some for as long as 19 years. At times, the parole officers were merely checking on arrest records for the deceased parolees, while in other cases the officers claimed to have actually made contact with the person after their date of death.
Also, some of the most violent offenders and sex offenders are on GPS monitoring. Those GPS devices trigger an alarm if the offender goes somewhere he shouldn't be or if the device has been tampered with.
In 80 percent of those cases, the audit shows, workers didn't follow up on the alarms in a timely fashion.
Overall, state auditors said a separate problem they found could have contributed to some of the others.
Supervisors are supposed to review every case every year, but only half of the cases had actually been reviewed.
"If the supervisors were doing their annual review of cases, they would have found where parole officers were not doing their job," Loveless said.
The Tennessee Board of Parole had no comment on the audit Monday. However, the audit was prepared in advance of a Wednesday legislative hearing in which board leaders will likely face some questions from state lawmakers about the findings.
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