INDIANAPOLIS — State lawmakers took aim at electronic monitoring this session by setting up standards for monitoring across Indiana. Author Sen. Kyle Walker explained that Senate Enrolled Act 9’s proposal came as a response to numerous violent crimes allegedly committed by people wearing electronic monitors at the time of the crime.
One of those people is Marcus Garvin. Court documents explain Garvin was wearing a GPS monitor after being released in connection to a prior stabbing when he allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend, Christie Holt.
Holt’s violent death played a role in the passage of two laws: one that regulates charitable bail and this law which will create standards for electronic monitoring. Regarding charitable bail, Garvin was bailed out of jail by the Bail Project after a judge lowered his bail from $30,000 surety to $1,500 cash for a Dec. 2020 case.
Garvin was charged with Christie’s murder in August 2021.
“I wish she lived long enough to see these bills pass,” Steven Chase, Christie Holt’s Brother, said. “It makes me incredibly proud of her.”
Walker said he hopes SEA9 will make the judges pause longer before releasing people on electronic monitors.
“On one end, they’re probably not a flight risk and they’ll show up for their trial, so they probably just need to be released on bond or on their own recognizance,” Walker said. “On the other end of the spectrum, when you talk about some of these really violent offenders, I think that in many cases, just need to be in jail or in prison.”
Under the new law, Walker said if a person facing or convicted of violent charges absconds, police are to request a warrant then send out a message to all available units within 15 minutes and dispatch an officer within an hour. If it is a person facing or convicted of a nonviolent crime, Walker said police will receive a message within an hour and be dispatched within 48 hours.
“I think it strikes the right balance between being practical in terms of what police can do but also again have a very strict standard so that offenders are apprehended as soon as possible if they do escape,” Walker said.
Walker said the law builds backup verification between the monitoring agency and the employers of those wearing the devices. Walker said he hopes this helps in places where the devices are likely to lose signal.
“So that in those cases where they know the offender is working and going to the same place every day, and maybe it’s a large factory type setting and there are connectivity issues, that they can then instead of immediately triggering the requirements of escape, they can use the backup verification method to talk to the employer to ensure that that individual is there,” Walker said. “Then ask them to call in and verify. It lets them continue working, it’s better for the offender, it’s better for the employer. It’s overall better for the system.”
This portion of the bill came after discussions with RecycleForce which employs many people wearing these monitoring devices. Like Walker, RecycleForce President Gregg Keesling hopes this new law looks at who is wearing the devices.
“The answer is, to reduce the number of those who are monitored and monitor those that are high risk and not try to put ankle bracelets on thousands,” Keesling said.
Victims’ families like Christie’s hope laws like these make decision-makers in the system pay more attention.
“I really do hope we have this pushed onto the judges where they are second looking everything and thinking and re-evaluating because what if it was their daughter that was brutally murdered,” Katie Davidson, Christie’s Friend, said.
Beginning January 1, 2023, Walker said SEA9 also requires monitoring agencies to submit a quarterly report to the local justice reinvestment advisory council. The information included shall address the total number of tracked individuals under supervision, whether they are under pretrial or post-conviction supervision, the charges they are facing or the ones they’ve been convicted of.
The report must also address the number of people supervised by each employee, the cost and fees of the devices imposed and collected, the number of people under supervision whose supervision has been terminated and the reason, and the number of false location alerts or device malfunctions from each person being supervised.
“I just hope that this means there’s no more Christies,” Felicia Myers, Christie’s cousin, said about the laws overall. “Because it’s been such an earth-shattering thing.”