13:28 GMT +318 February 2019
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    Company Supplying Ankle Monitors for Crooks Suspends Deliveries to Rio

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    Rio de Janeiro, the site of next month's 2016 Summer Olympics, is threatened by the prospect of criminals literally running out of control. A company which provides police with ankle monitors, meant to keep track of criminals on parole or under house arrest, has halted deliveries due to the state's massive debt, Brazil's Estadao newspaper reported.

    The newspaper explained that Rio de Janeiro's state government has not paid monitoring company Spacecom for its monitoring services since late last year, and owes them R$2.8 million – about $850,000 US. The company is engaged in the monitoring of 1,600 persons across the state, but has suspended the delivery of new equipment to the Department of Penitentiary Administration.

    Over the weekend, businessmen Fernando Cavendish and Carlinhos Cachoeira, arrested by the Federal Police as part of Brazil's ongoing anti-corruption investigation, could not be placed under house arrest, because police did not have ankle monitors available.

    According to Breno Melaragno, a lawyer and president of the Public Safety Committee of Brazil's Bar Association, at least 600 other people face a similar situation. "Two months ago, there were 600 inmates in line for an ankle monitor, and the situation has only worsened," he told the paper. Without ankle monitors available, pre-trial suspects facing a judge are often simply freed without ankle monitors. This, Melaragno suggested, effectively amounts to suspected criminals being "released without any control."

    Asked to comment on the alarming situation, Spacecom CEO Savio Bloomfield told Estadao that the state government has promised to pay soon. The businessman noted that "if the money is sent this week, it will take a few days for the equipment to be sent from Parana to the company's headquarters in Rio de Janeiro."

    Spacecom charges R$214.50 monthly (about $65 US) per person for the ankle bracelet and its monitoring service; the ankle monitor has a 24 hour charge, and takes about 2 hours to recharge. Authorities are informed if the wearer attempts to disengage the anklet, fails to recharge the battery or leaves the area ascribed under the terms of his house arrest.

    Across Brazil, Spacecom monitors about 19,000 people. In addition to Rio, the cash-strapped states of Goias and Pernambuco have also fallen short on their payments to the company.

    Rio's problems appear to be piling up ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, set to start in August. Late last month, some 300 local police officers held a citywide protest over salary backlogs and unbearable conditions at work. Earlier this week, Rio city Mayor Eduardo Paes slammed state officials for doing a "terrible job on security" ahead of the Games. 

    Last month, Rio's state governor declared a state of financial emergency and requested assistance from federal authorities. The federal government has disbursed $895 million in funds to help the state address its financial disaster.


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