Probation GPS Monitoring
With more states seeking to remove non-violent drug offenders from prison cells there has been an increase in demand for court ordered GPS monitor programs. The goal is to give some freedom back to criminals who have been involved in misdemeanors, non-violent felonies, or those who are simply on early probation to reduce the over-population of prison systems. However, one of the primary tools used in these probation GPS monitoring programs are GPS bracelets has many people wondering about the accuracy, reliability and overall performance of court ordered GPS monitoring systems. So let’s take a look at closer look GPS bracelet probation programs and analyze the advantages and potential disadvantages!
When most people think about the efficiency of the government they think about the DMV, United States Postal Service or one of the many other departments that have struggled to maintain a significantly positive image among the public. Unfortunately, inefficiency becomes a very serious concern when it involves public safety, and that has been the case in regards to GPS tracking of sex offenders and other parole violators in the state of California. The California prison system, like many other jail systems across the United States, faced an overcrowding problem that forced many lawmakers to make small concessions to reduce prison populations. One of the approaches legislators implemented roughly years ago was to transition those violating their parole into county jails rather than state penitentiaries, along with additional programs to use GPS bracelet probation programs to monitor criminals that were released back into the public.
This new court-ordered GPS monitor approach to prison management has been effective in many states but also created other problems such as when parolees under GPS monitoring surveillance remove GPS tracking bracelets. The issue of parolees and other criminals under surveillance via GPS bracelet probation became such a large issue in California that a state Senator, Ted Lieu, drafted a law that made it mandatory parole boards place any individual that removes a GPS tracking bracelet or anklet to serve six (6) months in state prison. However, after an in-depth look at the law, a modification was made to send violators who intentionally removed GPS trackers to the county jail to help alleviate prison overcrowding concerns. This new version of the law was finalized years ago, receiving unanimous approval by the California state Senate.
Should all states make it mandatory that those involved in GPS bracelet probation programs who remove their personal tracking systems be placed in county or state prisons?
Are you surprised that a significant penalty wasn’t already in place for those under court-ordered GPS monitoring or GPS bracelet probation programs who remove their tracking systems?
Is It a Felony To Cut Off Ankle Monitor?
In many states, it is a felony to remove any GPS bracelet, anklet, or personal monitoring device used for probation or house arrest purposes. Those who want more details about the laws regarding what happens when you cut off ankle monitor the best thing to do is contact local law enforcement or an attorney in the area of where the GPS bracelet is being used.
How Accurate Are GPS Ankle Bracelets
GPS bracelet probation programs utilize some of the most sophisticated real time GPS tracking technologies on the market. These GPS bracelets can be accurate up to 5 feet under ideal conditions, however there are some things that can block GPS signals. This can result in false positives, highly inaccurate data, or simply the GPS bracelet failing to update.
Do Ankle Monitors Record Conversations?
One of the most popular questions people on parole, probation, or house arrest ask is whether or not ankle monitors record conversations. The answer is no. GPS anklets do not have microphones to record audio, and even if they did, the anklets or bracelets would have no way to transmit that data since the devices are not engineered with cellular data modules. GPS anklets also don’t have SD or CF slots to record audio to a memory card. However, cellular phones most certainly have the capability to record conversations and other audio.
Cutting Off Ankle Monitor While On Probation
GPS tracking bracelets and anklets are commonly used by law enforcement to monitor criminals accused of a variety of crimes from domestic violence to stalking. The GPS bracelet probation programs are critical in public safety because the tracking devices report where felons are located at all times in real-time. This is helpful in determining if a pedophile is near a public school or an assault perpetrator is near a victim. Unfortunately, an audit by the state of California a few years back showed that approximately 25% of the GPS bracelets tracking criminals were not working properly! Some of the most common issues with the GPS anklets and bracelets used to monitor criminals were associated with electronic monitoring systems that could be classified as defective, showing false geo-fencing alarms, and having internal batteries that failed to hold a charge for extended periods of time. In fact, some of the GPS trackers functioned so poorly that one criminal had his tracking device replaced over ten times in a single year because of incorrect locational data. During one stretch the GPS bracelet was not reporting any data for almost an entire week!
Clearly, it is a very serious concern if GPS tracking bracelets used to monitor dangerous criminals are providing incorrect information. The faulty technology has the potential to be the catalyst for disaster. However, the GPS tracking provider contracted to bring the monitoring technology to law enforcement has stated the primary issue with the GPS equipment has been probation officers without adequate training and the criminals themselves who are not complying with directions. The monitoring company explained scenarios where probation officers assessed dead batteries as failing equipment.
Currently, the systems used in GPS bracelet probation programs to monitor criminals are evaluated for performance every month, and the GPS provider themselves is evaluated annually. Unfortunately, some regions have had such a bad experience with GPS trackers provided by state contracts that they found their own resource for tracking devices. This is what Orange County did when they left Sentinel Offender Services, the largest provider of GPS tracking devices to the state of California. GPS trackers used to monitor repeat sex offenders, domestic violence offenders and others are typically attached to the felons using a locking mechanism that straps the tracking device to the ankle. When functioning correctly the real-time GPS trackers will transmit the exact position of the felon every 60 seconds. The GPS bracelets can also notify police if a criminal tries to remove the tracking device or visits a location deemed off-limits such as a victim’s workplace or home.
According to the state audit on the GPS tracking hardware, it was revealed that not only were numerous devices not working properly but some criminals were released without GPS anklets or bracelets simply because the hardware provider ran out of working devices. The implication that GPS trackers used to monitor criminals is not working is very profound because that means it is possible that potentially dangerous felons could be engaging in criminal activity. This is something simply unacceptable considering the potentially dangerous consequences.
GPS bracelet probation programs call upon devices that transmit live data to the state which provides probation officers an avenue to see where a person located at any given time. The GPS monitoring devices also come equipped with a geo-fencing feature that allows officials to be alerted the moment criminals leave their house or other location they are being monitored. The GPS probation monitoring has been game-changing when in comes to reducing prison populations and that is a good thing for non-violent criminal offenders.
Sage is a freelance writer with a background in information technology.