INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The welts on Nakiea Theus’ right arm prove she’s been receiving kidney dialysis treatments for three years.
The GPS unit strapped to her right ankle proves Theus’ has been on home detention for a criminal recklessness conviction since last October.
“I did it for ten months with no problem until they switched to the new system,” said Theus during an interview on the front porch of her mother’s eastside house. “But when they switched it this new system, it don’t charge like it’s supposed to.”
Theus blames a malfunctioning GPS unit, and a broken Community Corrections system, for sending her to jail for five weeks this summer and costing the mother of three her job and her home, all because a case worker couldn’t reach her while she was undergoing kidney dialysis treatment.
“We’re staying with my mother right now until I can figure out something else. I’m trying to find a job and a house. I gotta start all over.”
For seven years, Theus worked in the laundry room of a nursing home, but her stint in the Marion County Jail beginning August 8 has cost her that job.
Five days earlier, Theus’ GPS unit notified the monitoring system she wasn’t at home.
“I was at work when they called me and I tried to talk to the monitoring system,” she said. “’I’m at work,’ and she said, ‘Okay,’ and that was the end of it.”
The next day, August 4, Theus received another phone call and told the operator she was receiving dialysis treatment, which was confirmed by a review of her medical records.
An operator told her the monitoring system could not pick up the signal from her unit, said Theus, but she should inform her case worker later that day.
Theus said she tried several times but was unsuccessful in reaching the case worker.
Recently, supplied records show her unit charged and operating over the course of those two days, even though there is a noticeable lack of contact for 24 hours.
In the violation notice, Theus was told her unit was not charged and operating at roughly the same time she received a phone call at work from a monitoring system operator on August 3 that advised her to contact her case worker later.
On the following Monday, Theus made a routine visit to the case worker to check in and complain about the unreliability of the GPS unit to consistently hold a charge.
“They said it wasn’t the unit. It was the cord.
“It’s not the cord. It’s the unit,” Theus said after witnessing several other clients at Community Corrections with the same complaint. “Then they gotta charge it when they sit there, then they send them on their way, then they be right back the next day with the same problem.”
Theus’ complaints are echoed by a Marion Superior judge who confirmed the problems to Fox 59 News and another Community Corrections client named Joseph Brown.
“From day 1 I’ve had nothing but trouble with the equipment. Either it won’t stay charged or won’t charge at all,” Brown wrote in an email Sunday. “They have our freedom in their hands and we don’t have proper equipment.
“If they don’t get it together a lot of innocent people (will be) in jail/prison. PLEASE HELP!!!”
Nakiea Theus said she became one of those innocent people when she reported to her case worker for a regular appointment on August 8.
“He asked me for my work schedule and as I was handing it to him two sheriffs came and said I had a warrant for my arrest and I was shocked and I didn’t know what was going on and they locked me up on the spot.
“I’m telling him it’s not right. I got the paperwork saying it’s not right. I got my dialysis papers. I got the work schedule. I got the paperwork saying it wasn’t dead.
“He knew my schedule. I been doing dialysis for three years. I’ve been doing it for ten months with him. He knew where I was at. It wasn’t like I was somewhere where I wasn’t supposed to be. He could’ve found me at the dialysis center if he wanted to find me.”
Community Corrections did not respond to a request for comment on Theus’ case earlier this month.
Brown supplied Fox 59 News with emails written to his case worker on September 20, reporting his own GPS unit had been malfunctioning for days.
He said a replacement this weekend is operating no better than the unit he turned in.
“They got too many people on this stuff. You can’t keep track of the whole city and the system isn’t working. This new system they just got. It doesn’t work. It keeps beeping. It doesn’t hold a charge. It doesn’t work.”
Marion County Sheriff John Layton has volunteered to assign deputies to Community Corrections if added personnel would help monitor a growing caseload.
The Criminal Justice Planning Council, which meets monthly to, among other issues, keep tabs on jail overcrowding, has endorsed expansion of the community corrections home detention system as a lower-cost alternative to incarcerating offenders who are awaiting trial.