Some violent offenders in Ohio are not behind bars, but are wearing ankle monitors instead

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The life of a 21-year-old college student from Toledo was cut short this past February.

Reagan Tokes was raped and murdered by a man on parole wearing a GPS monitor.

Brian Golsby has pleaded not guilty to killing the Ohio State student. Golsby had just been released from prison three months earlier after serving a six-year sentence for attempted rape and kidnapping.

Some violent offenders in Ohio are not behind bars, but are wearing ankle monitors instead.

Cleveland 19 is looking into Cuyahoga County's GPS monitoring program in light of what happened to Reagan Tokes.

We're told the program was intended for low level offenders, but in this investigation, Reporter Sara Goldenberg found many of the names on the list are accused of much more than that.

The goal of the program is to provide alternative sentencing options and help reduce jail overcrowding.

Some offenders in the GPS program have not gone to trial yet and others are on probation. An ankle monitor lets deputies know exactly where an offender is at any point and time.

"This is our active GPS monitor, it's called ET1," said Detective Tim Coyne, as he showed us how it works.

Offenders wear them all day.

"Twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, how long it takes them to go through their judicial process," Coyne said.

He is one of 12 detectives in the electronic monitoring unit with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office.

They track offenders in real time.

"This immediately lets us know that they've not only left the area of their home, but we can figure out if they're on a bus, a vehicle, a bike or walking," he said.

Cleveland 19 wanted to know exactly who is in the GPS program.

We received a list of names from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office at the end of February.

It did not include dates of birth, which means we couldn't look up offenders with common names.

For more than five hours, we searched each name in the court system database.

Out of about 325 names on the active GPS offender list at the time, Cleveland19 found at least 40 violent offenders, or 12 percent of the people enrolled in the program.

That included offenders like Dionte Hockett, who was charged with two counts of attempted murder and eight counts of felonious assault. He was placed on house arrest while he awaited trial.

Tiara Kasten pleaded guilty to endangering children, domestic violence and aggravated assault. She is wearing an ankle monitor too.

We talked to neighbors of Brandon Binns in Cleveland.

None of them knew he was facing charges of rape and kidnapping at the time.

"You got kids that live on this street that play all day. I'm thinking he was over there for selling drugs, and he's there for kidnapping and rape? Jesus, I'm about to go buy me a gun," Laura Johnson said.

Another neighbor who asked not to be named says she's not thrilled about the situation, but she sees another side to it.

"They need to be monitored if they commit serious crimes. But then you have to wonder, where are they gonna live, if they don't have a place provided for them?" She said.

We found an even more disturbing case.

Samuel Park Sr., 73, of Cleveland Heights was charged with 27 counts of rape, 27 counts of kidnapping and 10 counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. He posted a $300,000 bond and was wearing an ankle monitor before his trial.

At this point, he was innocent until proven guilty.

We asked Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo why someone like him was able to post bond and live at home, even if he was under house arrest.

"So there's two things we're looking at, the mental health and well-being, the community as well, and we make a determination of a bond to be set. So $300,000, Mr. Park was 73 years old, had been in the community his whole life, had a stable environment working at Cleveland Clinic," Judge Russo said.

He said this case involved an "isolated victim."

"Three-hundred-thousand dollars is a pretty high bond to be setting, high in the sense that it fits the charges," Russo said.

Park eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

There are two types of offenders on the GPS program-- those who have been sentenced or served time and are on probation, and those who have not gone to trial yet and posted bond.

Judges look at the safety of the community and the chance of rehabilitation for each suspect on a case- by-case basis.

"You may also say, this is a first time offense. It's serious but the consequences of sending you to prison, the cost of sending you to prison and the possibility of rehabilitation to you, it's less likely to happen in prison than with our probation department. Then I may say, 'you know what, I'm going to give you house arrest,'" Russo said.

We asked Judge Russo about neighbors' concerns.

"If everybody charged with a crime, we went out and put an alert for everybody, when their burden is nothing, they're innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution. So now all of a sudden we've labeled everybody who's accused of a crime," he said.

Cleveland 19 asked whether the GPS program has become a security blanket for judges when it comes to sentencing, since it includes some offenders with very serious charges.

"I don't think the decision is ever hinging on 'well I could put him on GPS instead of sending him to prison,'" Judge Russo said.

No matter how well it's enforced, ankle monitors don't prevent crime, something Reagan Tokes's family knows all too well.

She was supposed to graduate college in just a few days. But sadly, she won't be there.

Tokes was recently awarded a posthumous degree at Ohio State University.

In her case, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections was in charge of the suspect's GPS monitoring as a part of his parole.

Under Ohio law, a sex offender who has served time in prison must be under supervision for five years after prison and wear a GPS monitor.

Reagan Tokes' family released a statement after her death, reading in part:

"We cling to our steadfast faith for the strength and guidance to persevere for justice, no matter how difficult the journey is. In addition, we will continue to seek out and fight for change to the system. Based on the facts, the system is severely broken. Our daughter suffered and lost her life as a result."

There about 300 offenders on average enrolled in Cuyahoga County's electronic monitoring program.

Offenders pay for it themselves. It costs them $8 a day. GPS monitors used by the sheriff's office cost anywhere from $2,990 to $3,189 for a complete unit. They lease the units, that way they can constantly update the technology.

"We have a people that do really, really well on it. We've actually had a lot of people say 'hey, this really helped me out because it kept me on track, I needed that in my life at the time," Coyne said.

The system has been in place in Cuyahoga County for three years, and in that time, officials say offenders have escaped a total of 80 times.

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