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December 29, 2013

Audit reveals serious problems with GPS tracking of serious offenders in LA

As reported in this new Los Angeles Times article, headlined "One in four GPS devices on criminals in L.A. County were faulty," the potential technical problems posed by technocorrections have been revealed by a new local audit. Here is how the story starts:

One in every four GPS devices used to track serious criminals released in Los Angeles County has proved to be faulty, according to a probation department audit — allowing violent felons to roam undetected for days or, in some cases, weeks.

The problems included batteries that wouldn't hold a charge and defective electronics that generated excessive false alarms. One felon, county officials said, had to have his GPS monitor replaced 11 times over a year; for five days during the 45-day audit period, his whereabouts were unknown. "If you have faulty technology, that is a recipe for disaster," said Reaver Bingham, deputy chief of the probation department.

The findings come as nearly every California county is moving forward with some form of electronic monitoring to contend with tens of thousands of state inmates being released to their supervision, an offshoot of the effort to reduce prison overcrowding.

In Kern County, officials have instituted a "virtual jail." San Bernardino County is using GPS to track its homeless felons. And Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has floated a proposal to move 3,000 inmates out of crowded jails and into the community wearing GPS trackers.

Mandated for use on high-risk sex offenders by the 2006 passage of "Jessica's Law," GPS tracking has been promoted by both lawmakers and state law enforcement officials as a safe and cost-effective alternative to prison or jail. However, a Los Angeles Times investigation earlier this year showed that California corrections officials were aware of massive problems in their program. Citing an "imminent danger" to the public, the state in 2011 quietly replaced the GPS monitors on half of the paroled sex offenders.

Los Angeles County began leaning on electronic monitoring heavily in 2011, putting GPS devices on its highest-risk felons — repeat sex offenders, domestic abusers who had violated restraining orders and violent gang members.

December 29, 2013 at 06:46 PM | Permalink


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I thank Doug for putting up this story, which cannot be looked upon as good news for those favoring less incarceration.

The public should not and is not going to accept an increase in crime. Trying to do important things on the cheap simply does not work, as we keep seeing (but not learning).

We know prison works. We are finding out (not to any honest person's surprise) that "virtual prison," as it's hilariously called, doesn't. Its failure is so frequent that it is not unfair at this point to call it a fraud.

If we want to release more criminals to save money, that in my view would be a mistake. But at least we should be honest enough to quit with these promises that "community supervision" will do for us what incarceration does. It hasn't and it won't.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 29, 2013 8:07:57 PM

Under 123D, none of those problem criminals would be alive pas their 18th birthdays, to commit hundreds of crimes a year each. Thank the lawyer traitor for all the damage they do. Only the lawyer internal traitor stands between killing these ultra-violent predators and protecting victims. They kill with near impunity, nothing can be done to them without all out prosecution by their friends, the lawyer traitors to this country. The official lying statistic is 15,000 murders. However, there are 100,000 unresolved missing person reports a year. The real murder rate may be 5 times larger.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 29, 2013 10:07:33 PM

I consider this story more of an example of the incompetence of government than missing "absconders". Follow the money!

I'll bet that there are many more false alarms (prisoners in compliance who have a malfunctioning GPS through no fault of their own) than people who disable/remove their GPS. LE and the Justice System do not want any meaningful analysis and reports about this problem because they do not want a fully informed public.

I have talked to POs who have said that checking every alert would take up way more than 100% of eveybody's time. THAT is the dirty little secret! If I remember correctly, one of the last posts by Doug on this topic was about the unusually high level of GPS false positives and not the deliberate absconding of probationers/parolees as the above two comments lead you to believe, as usual.

Posted by: albeed | Dec 29, 2013 10:35:49 PM

yea Albeed you hit it perfect. Forget what state but it was in new England a couple of years ago. Where evne the damn state governor got into the act over some ex sex offender who's damn gps tracker had went off like 60-70 times in just a few days or weeks. every time of course he was as home where he was supposed to be.

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 30, 2013 12:02:29 AM

albeed --

"I consider this story..."

Is there some reason anyone should care what you "consider" the story to be?

"I'll bet that there are many more false alarms..."

Is there some reason anyone should care what you'll bet? Not that you so much as claim a factual basis for your "bet," or would pay it off anyway.

"I have talked to POs..."

Sure you have. Name one. And I don't mean, "I talked to Jim." I mean give his full name and judicial district.

This you are not about to do, since you're concocting it, just as you concocted your claim about the supposed non-existence of comments on C&C. When called on it, what did you do?

You walked past your dishonesty and keep on keepin' on. Not big enough to admit it, retract it, or apologize for it. My, my.

Like your fellow pro-criminal commenter Gritsforbreakfast, you apparently feel entitled to take such liberties with the facts as you care to. You're above such trivialities as truthfulness, aren't you?

And that's because you're such a brilliant, rich engineer -- as you have so often proclaimed -- isn't it?

But there is a difference between you and Grits. Grits at least makes his real identity known, while you cower behind the Internet curtain.

That's real impressive.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2013 12:03:45 AM


Your ad hominem attacks on me don't bother me in the least so please continue. If you think I am pro-criminal, you are sadly mistaken. Federalist has hit the nail on the head several times but you don't acknowledge it. Uninvestigated problems in the system that are swept under the rug CONTINUOUSLY, lead one to have less respect for it.

If you were serious about the Justus System being all that it should be, (yes, errors occur and it could and should be improved, along with its apologists such as you), you would acknowledge that some people other than yourself have valid concerns.

Please go to the "Technocorrections" link at the bottom of the post and go to the the July, 30, 2013 link to the AP article regarding the problems with GPS. Read the comments section also. Then tell me that the real problem with GPS is "absconders" Professor.

I'm sure with your resources, you and your Fed buddies can illegally find my IP address anytime you want to.

PS: My statements on comments on the C&C post were accurate when written. No retractions are necessary.

Posted by: albeed | Dec 30, 2013 8:59:23 AM

albeed --

"Your ad hominem attacks on me don't bother me in the least so please continue."

I'm not surprised that being correctly identified as a liar doesn't bother you. Your emotional state, however, is not the issue. Whether you lie is the issue. You did in your original assertion that there had been no comments on C&C since December 19, and you are lying again now in claiming that your original statements "were accurate when written." They were accurate when written only if time has started running backward.

I'm also not surprised that you are not bothered by ad hominem, since it was you who referred to (unnamed, of course) commenters here as having the insight of dogs "licking their privates."

That's not as hominem, right? Just a little, haha, "hyperbole," to use the word you employed to excuse your disgusting barbs at people who disagree with you as just a bit of fun.

"I'm sure with your resources, you and your Fed buddies can illegally find my IP address anytime you want to."

The question is not whether you can be found. The question is whether you voluntarily take responsibility for what you put up here, crawl out from hiding, say who you are, and deal with your childish insults and lies.

Just to be clear on this latter point, I will bet you $200 here and now that your assertion that there had been no comments on C&C after December 19 was NOT "accurate when written."

If you're not lying, then and now, there's $200 sitting on the table for you.

Are we on? Or are you going to run away again?

P.S. After you step up, and only after, I would like to hear your assessment whether, given what we now know are rampant GPS failures with released prisoners, it is true or false that the public is just as safe with community monitoring as it is with incarceration.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2013 10:12:52 AM


Far Out! Take a chill pill please. Do not get mad because I don't respond like one of your students because I don't fall under your jurisdiction and have to swallow your half-truths.

When I viewed your C&C blog, on December 26th, there were no comments on any posts since December 19th. What has occurred since then is irrelevant and I have no way to PROVE that I win the $200. BTW, I have mailed my one-time (vs continuous) year end charitable donations today and that would cover 1/35th of the amount so it is trivial to me.

Did you review the AP article from July 30th and the comments? Probably not, but I will respond anyway.

"P.S. After you step up, and only after, I would like to hear your assessment whether, given what we now know are rampant GPS failures with released prisoners, it is true or false that the public is just as safe with community monitoring as it is with incarceration."

If the Justice System were honest (not meaning those on GPS), and GPS monitoring (which really is mostly a cost born by the wearer) were followed as it is presented to a misled public (so that a responsible party were available 24/7 to follow-up and/or contact regarding a malfunction), then the community would be safer when those on probation/parole are monitored. Instead, the onus of a malfunction is left entirely on the wearer who can do nothing about a malfunction. When those who are sent back to incarceration when they are trying to follow all the rules but are in compliance, only a deeper distrust of the Justice system is the outcome.

I still stand by my dog comment (Which had to do with owners (one with severe mental problems) being charged and sentenced harshly for cruelty to a dog which was 17 YEARS OLD)! No chronically (or acutely) mistreated dog would attain 17 years of age!

I see why you made a good prosecutor. You present half-truths and take statements out of context.

Objection Your Honor!

Posted by: albeed | Dec 30, 2013 12:02:33 PM

From a former parole administrator, here's the dirty little secret. Using tracking devices is largely done for public relations reasons.

Posted by: Tom McGee | Dec 30, 2013 5:07:49 PM

Tom McGee --


Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2013 7:31:30 PM


This "Bingo" has bothered me for a while. Were you under the influence when you wrote it?

Tom HcGee is confirming my position and statements regarding GPS, not yours. Go re-read the thread!

Posted by: albeed | Jan 3, 2014 10:41:19 AM

The monitoring parolee's is a scam to secure our state money knowing these parolee's are sent back to our over crowded prisons if they are guilty or not..... In Los Angeles county the state found that 3 out of 4 parolee's were inaccurate.. That's an extremely high amount. Now since they were found faulty what was done about it? How many innocent people are doing time over these devices. And when will the state audit the other counties in California? This isn't the first time this happened a couple years ago the same problem occurred and the state demanded parole/probation officers to quitely replace the device's.. So this is what tax payers money goes to..

Posted by: vanessa | Apr 5, 2014 2:58:51 AM

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