GPS Devices Fail to Track 25% of L.A. County Felons
Serving as yet another example that the government is technology-challenged, a probation department audit reveals that 25 percent of Los Angeles County GPS devices, used to track serious criminals, don’t work.
Reaver Bingham, deputy chief of the probation department, admitted, "If you have faulty technology, that is a recipe for disaster.” The problems that range from faulty batteries to malfunctioning electronics could allow criminals to roam free for days.
Moreover, earlier this year, a Los Angeles Times investigation confirmed that California corrections officials knew considerable problems were inherent in the GPS program. The Times reported in February that "thousands of paroled child molesters, rapists and other high-risk sex offenders in California are removing or disarming their court-ordered GPS tracking devices — and some have been charged with new crimes including sexual battery, kidnapping and attempted manslaughter.” Back in 2011, declaring the program an "imminent danger" to the public, California replaced the GPS monitors on half of the paroled sex offenders.
Not only were the tracking devices faulty, there were monitoring abuses by Los Angeles County. The county is mandated by law to conduct monthly reviews and yearly evaluations of its program contractor. County officials did not review the contractor's (Sentinel Offender Services) work until problems surfaced. Sentinel contends that most of the problems were caused by mistakes made by the probation officers and the “felons who had failed to follow directions.”
Mark Contestabile, an officer with Sentinel, insisted that he “sought direction” on how to resolve the problems, but he was ignored and did not hear from L.A. County for four months. Nevertheless, the audit did reveal the contractor appeared to have committed some mistakes. One probationer, reportedly, wore a broken GPS tracker for 45 days. Also, according to an anonymous Sentinel employee, one of the felon’s monitors had not worked since the device was strapped to his ankle.