Feds Hot on the Trail of a Dead Parolee


We've almost got him, boss.

Hawkins was a felon, convicted of second-degree murder and assault, and a heroin addict who spent most of his adult life in and out of prison and on and off parole. The system lost track of him one day in July 2007, after he had been out on parole for about two years and failed a drug test at his rehab center. Although parole officers spent countless hours making more than 340 attempts to find him — phone calls to relatives and friends, certified letters, arrest record checks, visits to his last place of employment (Goodwill) and his last known address (the Samaritan Inn), sometimes with police officers in tow — they never found him.

Hawkins died one year later, in July 2008, at 54, of metastatic lung cancer. His family has the death certificate and certificate of cremation to prove it.

The system still hasn't found him.

But it's still trying…

The case is still active, Len Sipes said yesterday. Sipes is the spokesman for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, or CSOSA, the federal agency that took over the D.C. parole office nine years ago when the federal government assumed responsibility for the city's prison system. According to its records, a warrant for Hawkins's arrest, issued in April 2008, is still outstanding. He is to be supervised on parole until April 27, 2016.

Last month, Hawkins's parole officer called one of his sisters to ask whether she had seen him lately.

"They said they were trying to get in touch with him because he'd been violating parole and they needed a number for him," said Maria Watson, Hawkins's younger sister. "I said, 'Well, you can call 1-800-G-O-D.' "

…The phone call was only the latest frustrating twist for Hawkins's family. Parole officers have called other siblings for the past several months, they said, and they have all told the officers the same thing: Edward is dead.

I can see how the parole officers might have had some difficulty piecing together such puzzling, ambiguous hints about Hawkins' whereabouts. If only the family had been more cooperative.

Oh, and here's the punchline…

CSOSA's 344 or so community supervision officers, or parole officers, are responsible for keeping track of 15,000 parolees at any one time. The most potentially dangerous — currently about 800 — are fitted with ankle bracelets equipped with GPS tracking devices. Officers keep tabs on the rest through the Supervision and Management Automated Recording — or SMART — system.

But the system must be smart, right? I mean, it says so right there in the acronym.