Critics of program that allows offenders to check-in with parole officers via phone say it should exclude violent felons


COLUMBUS (WBNS) – 365体育手机投注A county prosecutor, a state lawmaker and the union representing parole officers all say a new monitoring program meant to ease the heavy caseload burden on parole officers should exclude those convicted of violent crimes.

A months-long investigation by 10 Investigates365体育手机投注 found that a violent convicted felon – now charged with murder - was among thousands of other ex-prisoners in Ohio assigned to a new pilot program that allows them to check-in with their parole officers over the phone.

The program commonly referred to as ATR or automated telephone reporting, began in 2018 – in part – as a means to reduce heavy parole officer caseloads.

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365体育手机投注Critics worry the program reduces face-to-face contact between parolees and officers – limiting the ability to know if those on post-release supervision are complying with their supervision or committing new crimes.

Currently, there are 485 parole officers in Ohio assigned to monitor more than 33,000 ex-prisoners.

10 Investigates has learned that Roshawn Cumberlander, charged with the October murder of his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Tomika Turner, was participating in the telephone reporting program at the time of the murder.

365体育手机投注Tomika Turner’s brother, Tyren, alleged that he did not know Cumberlander was under any type of post-release supervision but alleged that Cumberlander made general threats of violence and used drugs.

365体育手机投注A review of police records found that days after Cumberlander was assigned to ATR in June of 2019, Tomika Turner called police to report that Cumberlander smashed the windshield of her son’s car. The police report shows the case was referred to the prosecutor’s office – but no charges were ever filed. 10 Investigates also found that more than a week before Tomika’s murder, Whitehall police cited Cumberlander for possession of marijuana – a charge that was later dismissed in December – only after his arrest for murder.

It is not clear if Cumberlander’s parole officer was aware of either of these incidents. Tyren Turner said he believes his sister would be alive if Cumberlander had been under stricter reporting requirements.

“He was definitely not the type of guy that you would have out here – just having to call and talk. Because I didn't see him call anybody. I didn't think he had to report to anything,” Tyren Turner said.

365体育手机投注I didn't know they did that. That's not cool at all. If they would have had a way where he had to be seen twice a month by a probation officer, parole officer pulling up on him, and making sure he was doing the right things, I don't think this ever would've happened.”

365体育手机投注Cumberlander, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, was among approximately 2,600 other ex-prisoners on post-release control assigned to the program. When you factor in the number of individuals who avoided prison or are on different types of supervision including probation – that figure balloons to more than 6,000 ex-offenders now enrolled in ATR – or automated telephone reporting.

365体育手机投注Our investigation found that Cumberlander was assigned to the program meant for “low risk” offenders despite having multiple felony convictions – including aggravated assault.

Rep. Kristin Boggs, D – Columbus, one of a handful of lawmakers pushing a bill that would increase how offenders are monitored once they’re released from prison, says this new pilot program should exclude violent offenders.

365体育手机投注“Anyone with a violent criminal history is in my opinion not appropriate for this type of monitoring. This type of monitoring, if even utilized at all, should be reserved for the lowest level offenders with no violent history whatsoever,” Boggs told 10 Investigates. “I would say that person was not an appropriate person to be on this type of program - that he needed much more intense monitoring. He should have been someone that a parole officer face to face and regular contacts with - it's unfortunate that wasn't the case.”

Anthony Caldwell, a spokesman for SEIU 1199, the union representing parole officers, told 10 Investigates that the only way to improve the system is to hire more parole officers and actively monitor violent offenders with GPS.

“The point of the parole authority is to make sure folks are staying on that path - that they are holding down a job and doing all the things that they need to do.
365体育手机投注When you put them on a telephone system there is no way to verify that that's what they are doing,” Caldwell told 10 Investigates.

365体育手机投注In an interview with the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction last month, Annette Chambers-Smith told 10 Investigates that it is difficult to predict future crime or human behavior for those on post-release supervision.

“Here's the thing, just because someone qualifies for telephone reporting does not mean that they will never do anything wrong,” she said. “If you are thinking that there is some kind of 100 percent accuracy – that you can get out of human behavior where that my behavior up until now qualifies me for this — and I'm never going to do anything wrong after that. That's not how people work. Could there be someone do something bad on any level of supervision? The answer is yes.”

365体育手机投注10 Investigates found other problems with telephone reporting. For example, its implementation has not been without hiccups.

Through an open records request, 10 Investigates obtained quarterly reports submitted by a Chicago-based company the runs the automated telephone reporting program.

In September, a senior parole officer out of Cincinnati reported that she had “cases enrolled in ATR that should not be.” There were also technical errors – including five offenders assigned to Union County instead of their proper region.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said that ATR was part of a grant program and that once the grant cycle is complete in September, the program will be evaluated.

365体育手机投注The reporting by 10 Investigates comes at a critical time for the state as Governor Mike DeWine has assigned a working group to come up with ways to better monitor ex-prisoners once they’re released.

DeWine’s executive order last fall came after a number of high-profile murders in Ohio – including the 2018 murder of Ohio State student Reagan Tokes and the 2019 murder of Rachael Anderson – both killed by men who were under the watch of the state’s Adult Parole Authority. The governor has tasked the working group with making recommendations on ways to improve how offenders are monitored. A preliminary report was due at the end of January.

365体育手机投注A DRC spokeswoman said this week there were no updates on the working group.