An electronic monitoring company on Wednesday faced Davidson County’s six criminal court judges after it turned off the ankle bracelets of 20 offenders.
It happened from 10 a.m. to around 6 p.m. on Friday.
Among the offenders were criminal defendants facing murder charges, like Carlos Dixon who’s accused of shooting a man outside an Antioch Hookah Lounge in 2018.
The company, Tennessee Electronic Monitoring or TRM, claims the offenders have failed to pay for his services totaling $31,000.
TRM is contracted with Metro Government to monitor offenders.
The offenders themselves are required to pay the company.
Based on a court order, if that doesn’t happen, TRM is required to notify bond companies before any further action.
But last week, that didn’t happen and the company shut the monitors off.
“Forgive us, forgive my company, we want to do the right thing,” said TRM President Andy Baggenstoss.
“These individuals we put on electronic monitoring, they’re on there for a purpose and so when the electronic monitoring went off, they were not being monitored – that put us having to deal with this situation,” said Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Cheryl Blackburn.
“We are a private entity, however, and it is necessary that we get paid to pay those people that are doing the monitoring,” said Baggenstoss after the hearing.
But according to the Criminal Court judges, a court order in place requires TRM to notify bond companies if an offender fails to make payments.
“The issue is why Friday did you stop the monitoring when there is a mechanism to deal with that?” said Blackburn.
Per the court order, once bond companies are notified, offenders can then be surrendered into jail, then have a court hearing for judges to decide what’s next.
“All I’m trying to find out is why you didn’t notify the bonding companies so that they could then do what they are required to do under the issue?” said Blackburn.
Baggenstoss said it was all a misunderstanding.
“I believe I was told to go to an individual and I should have followed the order of the court as opposed to a contract. I should have dealt with the judges directly,” he said.
Baggenstoss acknowledged the impact of his decision.
“Certainly we shut that monitor off, certainly I have to take a lot of blame for that,” he said.
The hearing ended with a mutual understanding.
“I do apologize again to the court for this complete misunderstanding,” said Baggenstoss to the judges.
“We are clear as to what we are supposed to do?” asked one of the judges.
“We are very clear, Your Honor,” responded Baggenstoss.
Baggenstoss said it’s not likely he’ll get the money owed to him.
He said 19 of the 20 monitors were turned back on by 6 pm Friday.
Baggenstoss said one of the offenders decided to use the services of a different company.
TRM said if Davidson County opted into the Electronic Monitoring Indigency Fund, it would help in situations like this where offenders can’t pay.
Baggenstoss said he can’t continue to “subsidize the costs of the county.”
“Unfortunately I don’t know if I can get this back,” he said. “I took a very big risk in assuming that Davidson and County would opt into the Electric Monitoring Indigency Fund.”
The judges told Baggenstoss that issue has to be addressed by the Mayor and Metro Council.