NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Six metro trial court judges blasted a private company for their decision to suddenly stop monitoring twenty offenders outfitted with ankle bracelets.
News4 investigates first reported last Friday that several of the offenders are charged with murder.
In a hearing Wednesday morning, Judge Mark Fishburn criticized the owner of Tennessee Recovery and Monitoring for their decision, citing that one of he people charged with murder and ordered to wear an ankle bracelet came through Fishburn's court.
"You took him off (monitoring), and he's a first degree murder defendant," Fishburn said.
Fishburn and the five other judges present for the hearing said the company should have immediately contact bail bondsmen to gather up the twenty if the monitoring had stopped.
Andy Baggenstoss, owner of TRM, told the judges that he did alert the trial court administrator and others of their decision, but ultimately misunderstood the procedure of who should be notified and when.
"I should have dealt with the judges directly and from this today forward, we were certainly do this with this new understanding," Baggenstoss said.
Baggenstoss and his attorney explained to the courts what he first told News4 Investigates on Friday: this decision was about money.
Offenders are supposed to pay for their ankle bracelets and their monitoring, but these twenty are indigent and each owe TRM more than $600.
Because neither the offenders nor the courts would pay for the monitoring, Baggenstoss said his company couldn't afford to incur more debt.
In the past, the state’s indigenct fund could cover the costs of offenders who couldn’t pay.
But thanks to a new law, starting in July, in order to access the indigent funds, the county’s court systems must pay for half of the costs of outfitting indigent offenders with ankle bracelets.
The indigency fund will then pay for the other half of the costs.
Davidson County’s trial courts report that it is not in their budget to pay for the ankle bracelets, so they cannot access the funds.
Only the General Sessions court has agreed to opt in to pay to access the indigency fund, but Baggenstoss said they are only offering to pay $6,000.
The other trial courts in Davidson county are not paying or opting in.
The six trial judges at the hearing reiterated that the courts made it clear, when the court order was first agreed upon signing a contract with TRM, that they would not be paying for indigent offenders.
Baggenstoss said upon consulting with attorneys late Friday, he decided to continue monitoring 19 of the twenty.
The 20th offender voluntarily went to another monitoring company.
Baggenstoss said the issue of payment continues, though, to be a problem for his private company, saying that if courts don't agree to opt into the state's indigent fund, then this will continue to be a problem for private companies offering monitoring services.
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