US Senator calling for more oversight for probation after Renz murder, rape case

May 23, 2013

Ankle Monitoring Bracelets are being disabled by criminals

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants to see more oversight of probation offices and how they monitor ankle bracelets given to suspects on home-detention.  She cites the David Renz case here in Syracuse in a letter to US administrative Judge Thomas Hogan. 

She is proposing reforms for probation offices, after Renz managed to disable an ankle bracelet he had for a prior criminal charge, escape from home, then murder Lori Bresnahan and rape a 10-year-old girl.  She says in this case and others, warning signs were ignored.

"While ankle bracelet monitoring devices can be helpful in deterring crime, far too often we see probation officers failing to fulfill their responsibilities.  that must stop," said Gillibrand.  We owe it to innocent victims, whose lives have been shattered, to take action and ensure that inexcusable mistakes do not leave known criminals free to commit such unspeakable crimes. "

Before last March's murder and rape, Renz had disabled his ankle bracelet.  Prior to that probation officers had ignored as many as 46 other alerts that the tracking device set off, which indicated that tampering might have occurred


Gillibrand suggests the criminal justice system implement:

  • Unannounced visits to probation offices to ensure that all protocols and procedures are properly being followed
  • Annual reviews of probation officers found to be in violation of protocols and procedures including written reports on violations
  • Corrective action against any employees found to be in violation of protocols and procedures

Gillibrand says there was never an investigation by Syracuse Probation officers to see what set off alarms in Renz's monitoring bracelet.  She indicates there are similar stories across the country where people in hoe detention with ankle monitoring devices have disabled them, then gone onto commit more crimes.  Parolee Evan Ebel's device was down for three full days when he went on a killing spree in the Denver area.  Gillibrand says probation officers there did nothing to check on the device for three days.