Penna. reviewing probation policies

Chancier McFarland is being sought in Walker's death.
Chancier McFarland is being sought in Walker's death.

Work began after accused cop-killer Rafael Jones had no electronic monitoring for up to two weeks.

Posted: August 27, 2012

The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole said Saturday it was reviewing its policies on monitoring probation offenders after allowing accused cop-killer Rafael Jones to go without a required electronic ankle bracelet for up to two weeks after he was released from jail and placed on house arrest.

Jones is accused of killing Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. on Aug. 18, 10 days after Jones walked free from a Philadelphia prison on an order from Common Pleas Judge Susan I. Schulman.

In a statement, board chairman Michael C. Potteiger said Jones was allowed to go without the monitor because there was no telephone line in the home he had been approved to live in. A landline is needed for electronic monitoring to function.

Prisoners released to house arrest are not always monitored electronically from the moment they get out of jail, according to Potteiger's statement.

"The procedures of the Board do not require a parole agent to escort an offender from prison to a parole office in order to have a radio frequency electronic monitoring device placed on the offender," the statement read.

Police say Jones and alleged accomplice Chancier McFarland killed Walker in a predawn robbery attempt. A funeral for Walker is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave.

"Those two weeks took somebody's life," Philadelphia FOP lodge president John McNesby said Saturday, referring to the lag in monitoring. "That's like giving someone a pass, sending them out on the street and telling them to behave. . . . That doesn't cut it. Someone needs to be held accountable for this."

McNesby added that "everything I've always been involved with, they don't get released until a phone line is set up and the monitor is put on them."

Frank Keel, a spokesman for the court system, did not respond to a request for comment. Last week, he said the First Judicial District was "concerned that Judge Schulman's order . . . was not effectuated."

Everett Gillison, Nutter's chief of staff and deputy mayor for public safety, declined to comment.

Jones, 23, was arraigned Friday on murder, robbery, firearms, conspiracy, and related charges in the shooting of Walker, a 19-year veteran of the force killed while walking home after his shift at the 22d District in North Philadelphia. McFarland is still being sought.

On Aug. 8, Jones was released with e-mailed orders from Schulman "to report directly to state parole," according to a city official who reviewed the e-mail.

Schulman's e-mail followed one from a Philadelphia prison system representative, according to the official, that appeared to state that monitoring was being set up for Jones.

As a result, Jones walked out of prison unmonitored, instructed only to report to his state probation officer. He reported, but did not get monitoring because of the wait for a phone line to be installed, the probation and parole board statement said.

Jones' grandmother, Ada Banks, said Friday afternoon that Jones' probation officer contacted her before last month's probation-violation hearing, asking if Jones could live with her.

Banks said she declined. Jones was shot in the neighborhood this year, she said Friday, and she worried that if he returned, he would only find trouble.

"This is a house of peace," she said. "I didn't need the drama."

She said the probation officer was in a hurry and told her Jones could be released as soon as that day. She told the officer that Jones could live with his aunt in West Oak Lane, Banks said.

At the July 25 probation-violation hearing, state parole agent Jose Rodriguez recommended that Jones be released on probation and put on electronic monitoring. But Rodriguez questioned whether Jones could live at his grandmother's, based on the conversation with her.

Jones' attorney, Rosemary Zeccardi, told the judge that Jones would be living with his grandmother, but Jones did not come back to live with her. It is unclear whether Judge Schulman knew that.

Based on the assurance in court, Schulman ordered that Jones serve six months' house arrest at the grandmother's home. And she ordered Rodriguez to get police to detain Jones if he left the house for any reason except to look for a job, complete his GED, or do required community-service work - none of which he had accomplished in the four months he was on probation after his release in October, after serving four years on a gun-possession charge.

Jones was shot just weeks before he was arrested in February and charged with a gunpoint robbery. The charges were dropped, but he was held for violating probation. He had been in jail since his February arrest when he was recently released.

"It seems to me that when you got out [in October], you went right back to running the streets the way you did before. And, it got you shot and almost killed, right?" Schulman scolded him at the hearing. "So, Mr. Jones, unless you enjoy spending your years behind bars, it's time to get it together."

Jones' cousin said he met Jones hanging out on the corner of 18th and Suquehanna, where he was shot months before, the day he left jail Aug. 8.

Schulman, who sentenced Jones to four years in prison on the 2008 gun conviction, pointed to Jones' juvenile record at the July 25 hearing.

It goes back to age 12, when Jones was charged with throwing a rock through his mother's front door. He was arrested at 15 for selling drugs, then caught in a stolen Jeep. His first gun arrest was when he was 17, when officers said they caught him with a loaded .38-caliber revolver.


Contact Mike Newall at 215-854-2759 or mnewall@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @MikeNewall.

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