Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Government The Courts Technology Politics Your Rights Online

California Tracks Parolees With GPS, Then Ignores Alerts 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-google-on-the-case dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Several years ago, California decided to require high-risk parolees, such as gang members and sex offenders, to wear GPS monitoring devices. The idea was to relay location information to law enforcement to ensure that the convicts stay where they're supposed to. Unfortunately, the state often misses acting on those alerts, making the devices both a lesson in the pitfalls of technology management and a massive exercise in largely useless spending."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

California Tracks Parolees With GPS, Then Ignores Alerts

Comments Filter:
  • Really, I'd like to know who was in charge of the system, that way I can never hire the guy.

    or at least I'd like to know WHY nobody acted on it, maybe he had no budget to do anything?
    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Really, I'd like to know who was in charge of the system, that way I can never hire the guy. or at least I'd like to know WHY nobody acted on it, maybe he had no budget to do anything?

      Probably the are underfunded and have already too many bigger problems they don't have time to investigate.

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:41AM (#32602982) Journal

        and have already too many bigger problems they don't have time to investigate.

        Convicted violent felons violating the terms of their parole don't represent a sufficiently big enough problem to investigate? Hell, there wouldn't even be a long drawn out investigation. *keystrokes*, "Hmm, looks like he is at Sams Club, send a radio car to that location...."

        • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:45AM (#32603034)

          Hey, they don't have time for that.

          But notice that they know every time Lindsy Lohan has had a drink and it shows up on her device...

        • by Bakkster (1529253) <Bakkster.manNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:03AM (#32603254)

          Convicted violent felons violating the terms of their parole don't represent a sufficiently big enough problem to investigate? Hell, there wouldn't even be a long drawn out investigation. *keystrokes*, "Hmm, looks like he is at Sams Club, send a radio car to that location...."

          This is California. You think they have gas money for their patrol cars to get them to the parole violator's location? Let alone the money for additional cops who aren't making money for the state (such as speeding tickets or issuing other fines)?

        • by couchslug (175151)

          "Convicted violent felons violating the terms of their parole don't represent a sufficiently big enough problem to investigate?"

          Not in California.

          Their society reflects the choices citizens and government make.

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          Hell, there wouldn't even be a long drawn out investigation. *keystrokes*, "Hmm, looks like he is at Sams Club, send a radio car to that location...."

          Wouldn't be like that. It's a GPS system, so it's not going to work very well indoors, inside cars with metallised window darkening, vans, etc. So more likely the last location update that it's going to send out is the location at which the convicted (I hope) felon (probably, if the courts are any thing better than 50% accurate. which is a separate question.)

      • by phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:44AM (#32603018) Homepage
        I then assume the system was put in place for political reasons, some company that makes the stuff likely convinced some politician that the system was bullet proof, and sold him overnight.

        I then assume that the body required to implement this project then likely said: "Sure, we can do that, but we need more money."

        on being denied that money, I would have expected them to take this to the press. get some public attention to look at the matter, see why the government is proposing solutions that there's no money for.
        • by Z00L00K (682162)

          Upgrade the system to a wedlock [google.se]-like system. That will serve as a great incentive for the wearers.

        • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:54AM (#32603866)
          Actually, it was put in place for economic reasons. These bracelets are a lot cheaper than keeping these people in jail, where dangerous people SHOULD be kept. If someone really, really wants to rape and kill kids, will knowing he was in the vicinity after the fact really bring back the victims? This outcry was triggered by a monitored parolee committing murder. One has to ask, if they had followed up on every alarm, would that really have prevented the murders? The only way to make sure these people don't re-offend is to keep their asses in jail. A bracelet is just like a restraining order; if someone is willing to break the law, it does nothing to stop them. It only alerts people slightly earlier that they are doing something wrong.
          • by hey! (33014)

            Well, jails are built for economic reasons too. They are built to optimize the returns for politicians and their clients.

            What jails are not necessarily built to do is be part of a rational, effective response to crime.

            As an engineer, how would you optimize the use of a limited budget to reduce crime? You'd start with some kind of model. What kinds of crimes and criminals are there? What are the situations in which criminals commit crimes. Then you'd work out interventions to take in each case. One of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Paracelcus (151056)

        One of the biggest problems in that the law does not differentiate between the Pedo that rapes a little kid and an 18 year old who bones his 16 year old girlfriend or the 70 year old weenie wagger.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:41AM (#32602984) Journal

      What are you talking about? The system worked perfectly:

      - the leaders spent a lot of money
      - they bragged about it in their monthly newsletters
      - the voters FELT safe and happy

      This system worked just as planned by the politicians. They made Californians feel safe and happy and warm inside. Bread and circuses.

      • by mapkinase (958129) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:53AM (#32603130) Homepage Journal

        I share your emotional reaction to this budget exercise a lot. A lot.

        But. I think that there still might be some positive outcome from this: at least in the beginning parolees had a feeling that they are being watched and that feeling may be prevented them from committing more crime than they would have committed without GPS devices. This is just a hypothesis which quite hard to check: crime statistics dynamics depends on many factors and it is impossible to separate the influence of just one of them.

        Of course now that they know (or at least those of them who are avid readers of signonsandiego or slashdot) that nobody cares about their latitudes and longitudes, this factor is probably gone.

        • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:01AM (#32603224)
          Even if nobody acts on the alarms, there's still a log file.

          So if a crime is committed somewhere, it will be relatively easy to check whether any of the paroled felons were in the vicinity when it happened.

          So, deterrence factor against committing further crimes will still exist.

      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        I disagree with the cynical premise of your post, and with the bias of the articles in general.

        The question is: Did the system work better than what was used before? A single incident demonstrates a problem in the system, but doesn't answer the question of the general effectiveness of the system compared to alternatives.

        • No the question is: Did the new system work better than the old system PER CAPITA? If the new system cost 1 million per parolee caught outside his assigned zone, versus $100,000 per parolee caught, then the older system was better.

          And I'm cynical because the fact politicians spent money on a new system, but failed to hire people to track its output, indicates to me they were never serious. They just wanted something to put in their "re-elect me" pamphlets.

          • by jdgeorge (18767)

            1) I agree with your point about cost.

            2) What I dislike about the articles and the bulk of the responses is that they don't appear to contain information that answers either my original question, or your modification of that question.

            It's very easy to say "that's an ineffective waste of money, because it LOOKS like the kind of wasteful, ineffective spending we see all the time."

            It's WAY more useful to say, "This costs $XXX more/less per parolee than our alternatives, and does these things we want better/wor

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      or at least I'd like to know WHY nobody acted on it,

      Because they don't care. They don't *have* to. They're government workers. It's almost impossible to get fired from a government job in this state. They sit around not caring, spending other people money, and then retire early with a golden pension and health benefits. *That's* what is bankrupting the state. The public employee unions have complete and total control over the state legislature, but all the ideologues sit around in their reality bubbles and echo chambers blaming everything else.

      There was a hi

      • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:59AM (#32603212)

        I'd suggest it has nothing to do with government workers. Its like that fancy system monitoring software you got for your IT department. Shows all kinds of alarms and alerts - they they cut your entire department. Are you going to spend your day acting on alarms, or answering help desk emails? If your time is split between all that - stuff is going to slip by the wayside.

        • Yet every time Britney spears gets in trouble, they have an escort of 20 cop cars to help clear through the paparazi....

      • dear unions: (Score:3, Insightful)

        at one time, when gilded age corporatist assholes employed pinkerton's thugs to kneecap guys just trying to earn enough to feed his children, unions were heroic and noble

        in today's day and age, a union is nothing more than a lottery ticket for lazy assholes to earn way way more than middle class salaries, for doing far less, and be accountable and responsible for nothing

        additionally, no one can afford to manufacture anything here anymore because of union mandated salary levels, so everything is now done in

        • by JustOK (667959)

          unions are an epiphenomenon of the underlying cause.

        • Re:dear unions: (Score:5, Insightful)

          by infinite9 (319274) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:45AM (#32603756)

          additionally, no one can afford to manufacture anything here anymore because of union mandated salary levels, so everything is now done in chinese sweatshops. a committed anti-corporatist would respond it is the corporatists who drive jobs out of the country, not the unions. to which i would respond that that is easy to say, until you actually have to buy the goods with the sticker shock attached to them just so a union member can have lavish benefits and upper middle class salaries well beyond yours

          You're repeating the standard conservative (I hesitate to say republican these days) ideology. And it's not without merit. But I think everyone has it backwards. I don't think union workers are over-paid. I think the rest of us are under-paid. When a government official says that inflation is low and that it's a good thing, they mean wage inflation. Wages have been stagnant here for more than a decade. Maybe, just maybe, the unions have it right. The difference is that they have had the power to prevent the wage stagnation for their members that the rest of us have been powerless to stop. And for that I blame the corporatists. So when you look at the cost of something made in america and feel sticker shock, maybe it's because you're not making enough, and the value of the dollar has been eroded.

          You feel like you're making more than your parents and grand-parents did, because the absolute number is higher. But in terms of purchasing power, you're making much less. Those union workers we like to complain about are actually living the way our grandparents did. This is the real reason for your sticker shock. Do they deserve to live like us? Or do we deserve to live like them?

          • well yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

            it would be great if we all made $150K a year. now enunciate the real world plan in which that is possible

            thought so

            all you have is wish fulfillment fantasy, not valid social commentary

            i actually consider myself quite liberal and have voted Democratic all my life. but when it comes to unions, i see only a bloated historical anachronism that does more harm than good

            • by denzacar (181829)

              ALL unionized workers get paid that much? Really?

              Oh... wait... you were generalizing and putting up a straw man, I get it.

              now enunciate the real world plan in which that is possible

              You mean a world where everyone makes unionized workers' salaries, benefits and protection and not the actual straw man 150k you mention above?
              Easy.

              The same one where CEOs DON'T get rewarded by 6 and 7-figure salaries and bonuses regardless if they bring the economy to its knees.
              Also... The same one where both CEOs and workers consider a sum like 150k a year "a shitload of money".

              • http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/business/economy/21pension.html [nytimes.com]

                In Yonkers, more than 100 retired police officers and firefighters are collecting pensions greater than their pay when they were working. One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with a base pay of about $74,000 a year. His pension is now $101,333 a year.

                now you tell me: do i have valid grounds to find this unacceptable?

                you introduce a false conflict: that if i stand against the union stooge, that i must by some inference be supporting the ceo making 7 figures while his company crashes and burns

                why can't i hate both?

                why can't i hate the coddled union stooge AND the coddled ceo, at the same time?

                and, most importantly, i reject the notion we should all make the same amount. please tell me we don't need to go into a remedial education about why communism fails

                i support capitalism with socialist safety nets. or socialism with capitalist engines. whatever. i simply am complaining about these union stooges obviously getting away with murder. just as much murder as the ceo scumbags with the golden parachutes from the companies they helped destroy

                • I didn't say ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO THAT.

                  Here...

                  You mean a world where everyone makes unionized workers' salaries, benefits and protection and not the actual straw man 150k you mention above?

                  Where exactly do I say "same amount"?
                  Also, I have EXPLICITLY argued against your "150k for everyone" straw man.

                  i support capitalism with socialist safety nets. or socialism with capitalist engines. whatever. i simply am complaining about these union stooges obviously getting away with murder. just as much murder as the ceo scumbags with the golden parachutes from the companies they helped destroy

                  Oh please... Now you are comparing a unionized employee making couple of thousands more in benefits to a CEO literally STEALING millions?
                  Pleaaaase...

                  Face it - you are NOT for "capitalism with socialist safety nets. or socialism with capitalist engines.".
                  I'm guessing that you would like to be, maybe because you have personal issues with your life s

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by BranMan (29917)
                  Bullshit. Retired Police and especially fire fighters should be taken care of well. We don't pay them, especially fire fighters, very well while they are working, and their chosen career chews them up.

                  Consider fire fighters. Smoke inhalation, heavy exertion, burns, broken bones, frostbite - you name it. My father in law is a retired fire fighter and he has gnarled fingers, circulatory problems, a bad back, some burns, missing teeth, digestive problems, the list goes on.

                  Doing that for 30 years, then ret

            • by infinite9 (319274)

              it would be great if we all made $150K a year. now enunciate the real world plan in which that is possible

              thought so

              all you have is wish fulfillment fantasy, not valid social commentary

              i actually consider myself quite liberal and have voted Democratic all my life. but when it comes to unions, i see only a bloated historical anachronism that does more harm than good

              I agree that there are serious problems with unions these days. But we have a bigger problem. $150k a year sounds like a lot to you only because no one you know is making that much. What if everyone were making $150k a year? It wouldn't sound like that much to you. And people making $300k a year would be making a huge amount of money.

              But forget about actual numbers. They're meaningless. What you should really be looking at is purchasing power. How many hours do you have to work to pay for dinner? O

            • Re:well yeah (Score:5, Informative)

              by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:37PM (#32605810) Homepage Journal

              A union allows workers to bargain with employers collectively. Corporations act collectively (RIAA, MPAA, other industry associations), why shouldn't workers?

              The reason Chinese workers are cheaper than American workers is because the cost of living is cheaper there. When I was in Thailand in the USAF in 1974 you could take a bus anywhere in the country for a nickle, buy a tailored silk shirt for $10, feed four people in a restaraunt for a dollar. I paid thirty dollars a month to rent my bungalow (when I got back, for comparison, I paid $160 a month for a shotgun house in the slums and a McDonalds "meal" cost two bucks for one person). Now tell me how you can possibly compete with that?

              And here's a little tip: most union workers don't earn $150k/yr. I have a friend who's worked for the postal service for thirty years fixing those big mail boxes, he makes $75k. Were it not for his union he'd probably be making little more than minimum wage.

              Unless you're a corporatist or business owner, you're dead wrong about unions. Any working person who is anti-union is stupid, ignorant, or crazy.

          • You feel like you're making more than your parents and grand-parents did, because the absolute number is higher. But in terms of purchasing power, you're making much less. Those union workers we like to complain about are actually living the way our grandparents did.

            That is complete and utter BS. I am not a good comparison for my parents, but I have a good friend who is. I am one of six children, my friend has eight children. My mother was a nurse, my father was a jack of all trades. My friend is a jack of all trades, his wife is a nurse. My parents had only one car until after my oldest two siblings left for college, my friend and his wife have never had less than two cars. I could go on, but by any metric, my friend with 8 children has greater purchasing power than m

          • by Z34107 (925136)

            Except that "wage inflation," whatever you meant by that, has no bearing on the calculation of inflation.

            The US calculates inflation by constructing a basket of goods that represents what a typical consumer purchases - e.g., x loaves of bread, y new cars. They then find out how much the basket costs this month rather than last month - e.g., prices for bread went up, so now the basket costs x+1 instead of x.

            If you buy the same things you always did, but this month they cost you more, that's inflation. Wage

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Darth_brooks (180756) *

          at one time, when gilded age corporatist assholes employed pinkerton's thugs to kneecap guys just trying to earn enough to feed his children, unions were heroic and noble

          Now the corporatist assholes jack up your health insurance co-pays, (or your premium rates, or just plain get rid your your healthcare benefits) raid the company pension plan (if it still exists) for a new condo in Maui, or manipulate the stock price (which is a nice chunk of your 401k) to make a few bucks on the side, or run the company in

        • Re:dear unions: (Score:5, Informative)

          by Insightfill (554828) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:51AM (#32603844) Homepage

          the unions help drive jobs out of the country by demanding far too much for workers.

          A larger source of the problem was starting in the 80s (Reagan) and again in the 90s (Clinton) import tariffs were dropped to almost nothing in the US with the expectation that we'd make it all back in IP jobs and money: entertainment, software and biotech.

          We learned that many countries were quite happy to sell to the US with the reduced tariffs in place, but didn't drop their own, and didn't necessarily give diddly-squat about our IP and its rules.

          Tariffs are quite high on sugar and textiles, but for electronics and heavy industry, it's almost non-existent.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jawnn (445279)
          Jeezuz, where to start...

          in today's day and age, a union is nothing more than a lottery ticket for lazy assholes to earn way way more than middle class salaries, for doing far less, and be accountable and responsible for nothing

          Nice rant. Got anything like, you know, facts to back this up? Hey! Here's some. There has been a shift away from living wage manufacturing jobs towards lower paying service jobs for decades. The main reason? Off-shoring of those manufacturing jobs. Why go off-shore when you have the most productive workers in the world (in output per dollar spent)? Easy - corporate welfare. Ever since the Reagan years, there have been very generous tax breaks for companies who ship their manufactur

      • by nigelo (30096)

        "Informative"? I believe this is reactionary hyperbole.

        I don't believe that the budget can be balanced by reducing State workers' benefits.

        "Benefits will be continue reduced until morale/work product/level of caring improves."

        And reducing the benefits and/or number of employees is hardly going to help get those remaining "to do boo about" parole violations, is it?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          And reducing the benefits and/or number of employees is hardly going to help get those remaining "to do boo about" parole violations, is it?

          The situation is complicated, but it is the sheer number of employees and the level of benefits that comprise a bulk of the budget problem. Remember, when a politician says "we've cut to the bone" the translation is "we've reduced next year's increases a bit". The illegal aliens don't help, but, well, I'm the moral equivalent to three Hitlers plus two Stalins times a Charles Manson for even daring to mention it, right?

          They already managed to get a 2/3 vote last year and pass the largest state tax increase i

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:44AM (#32603024) Journal
      California prisons are overfull and underfunded, they are operating at somewhere near twice capacity. They don't have enough guards and on a lot of the prisons the guard towers around the perimeter are empty: you could just drive a truck through the fence, pick someone up and leave before anyone realized what was happening. If you are a non-violent criminal, you will probably only need to serve half or even a quarter of your sentence before being released. In addition, the prison systems are an inefficient bureaucracy. They send prisoners to different places to get check-ups that could be easily done in one place, things like that. All this information I got from my uncle who is a prison administrator, so take it for what it's worth.

      If you are wondering why the prisons in California are so full, it's because a few years ago we passed a "three strikes you're out" law, which means repeat offenders get life imprisonment. So they are trying creative stuff like this. Guess it's not working.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DaveV1.0 (203135)

        Your uncle is part of the problem. The prisons are not underfunded. The prisons are waste too much money.

        Remember, it costs California $47,000 per-inmate annually, which is 50 percent higher than the national average. There are approximately 170,000 people in California prisons. That works out to almost 10% of the budget. If the cost were more in line with the rest of the nation, it would save over $2 billion.

        Ask your uncle why it costs a third more to house an inmate in California. I guarantee you he won'

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357)

        Texas may not be AS BAD as California - but they are working on it. A prisoner convinced the entire prison system that he was paralyzed, couldn't walk, and rolled around the prison in a wheelchair for quite a long time. Then, he convinced the prison officials that he needed some kind of medical attention, which required he be sent to a more central location, with better facilities. Somewhere between here and there, he pulled a weapon, relieved his two guards of THEIR weapons, and took off. Wasn't paraly

  • I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight's Shadow (1517137) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:37AM (#32602936)

    I have to disagree with the summery because I don't see it as

    both a lesson in the pitfalls of technology management and a massive exercise in largely useless spending.

    It served the purpose of making the voters think something was being done which is all that is important in US politics.

    • by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:51AM (#32603120)

      I have to disagree with the summery because I don't see it as

      I disagree with the summery too. It's wintry, or maybe autumny. Sometimes springy.

  • “We have stated several times that GPS is an evolving science, where technology and best practices continue to be fluid,” Hinkle said by e-mail. “This is a new policy, and as CDCR leads the nation in

    Now their ineptitude makes sense... I didn't realize that GPS was still an evolving standard with constantly changing technology. Maybe these guys need to hire some devs from Twitter/FaceBook/etc ?

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:40AM (#32602962) Homepage

    It's not useless spending, they just aren't utilizing it properly. The idea is a good one, but just like regulations, it's only useless if it isn't properly enforced.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      It's not useless spending, they just aren't utilizing it properly.

      It is useless spending because almost everywhere you go, parole officers (like probation officers, public defenders, prison guards, and social workers) are already vastly overworked.
      Adding GPS tracking into the mix just created an information flood without any additional resources to deal with the infractions.

      The idea is a good one, but just like regulations, it's only useless if it isn't properly enforced.

      The State isn't willing to hire enough warm bodies to do anything more than a best-effort enforcement.
      Of course, California's budget is fscked, so I don't see how they could get the money for new staff

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        It is useless spending because almost everywhere you go, parole officers (like probation officers, public defenders, prison guards, and social workers) are already vastly overworked.
        Adding GPS tracking into the mix just created an information flood without any additional resources to deal with the infractions.

        That is a result of the environment, and not indicative of a bad idea.

        The State isn't willing to hire enough warm bodies to do anything more than a best-effort enforcement.
        Of course, California's budget is fscked, so I don't see how they could get the money for new staff.

        Agreed :(

  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:45AM (#32603030)

    Clearly, RIAA should track these parolees - and fine them $ 150,000 for every time they remove a bracelet or run out of battery power.

    That would save the State of California $ 60 million per year it doesn't currently have.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:51AM (#32603112)

      Clearly, RIAA should track these parolees - and fine them $ 150,000 for every time they remove a bracelet or run out of battery power.

      The RIAA needs an incentive, so give the bracelets wireless internet and have them download music whenever the perolee goes somewhere restricted. He won't know what hit him.

  • "Officials say the backlog grew because they lacked software to run an ongoing report of all unresolved cases." Prolly all they need is a sql script. But whatever.
  • The problem with electronic tracking is the same as alarm systems - a lot of criminals bank on the fact that a lot of alerts just go ignored or unreported and just go about their illegal business.
  • This is a classic case of how the law lags behind technology. FTA...

    Unfortunately, the technology, as California implemented it, didn’t work. The case of convicted sex offender Leonard Scroggins shows the system’s problem. Scroggins cut the tracking device off his ankle and allegedly tried to rob or kidnap several women and girls over a two-day period. The device sounded an alarm and parole officers pushed through the paperwork for an arrest warrant, but the process took nearly 24 hours. Even then, police would only learn of the warrant if they picked up Scroggins for some other reason and then checked the appropriate database.

    It seems clear to me that an alert from such a device constitutes probably cause for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the offender. The tecnology exists to have that happen in a span of minutes, requiring only a judge's (electronic) signature before being communicated to law enforcement who, presumably, would rate this type of case with a fairly high priority. Indeed, the case could be made for automatically generating the warran

    • by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:17AM (#32603400)

      These are parolees, you don't need probable cause. All you have to do is show up whenever there's an alert. If you can't show up whenever there's an alert you need to reassess your priorities.

      • by Jawnn (445279)
        I stand corrected. IANAL and I just took what I read from TFA about needing to issue a warrant. So in this case, it's just (again) bad management of the program.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Uh, they are on PAROLE. It doesn't require a judge to violate someone's parole and issue an arrest warrant. Any parole officer can do that.
  • by Saishuuheiki (1657565) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:56AM (#32603178)

    I read the article and come to a different conclusion. I believe the problem isn't in the technology, because from what I read it mostly worked. It mentioned some false alarms, but nobody hurts because of a false alarm. The problem here lies in the ineptitude of the people using the system.

    Let's say we developed a system that detected earthquakes 1 minute before they went off, but 90% of the time it would be a false alarm. Then people proceed to ignore the alarm because it's usually wrong. Now when a real earthquake occurs, those who ignore the alarm blame it on bad technology.

    I say no, this is the fault of the reaction, not the technology itself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zak3056 (69287)

      Let's say we developed a system that detected earthquakes 1 minute before they went off, but 90% of the time it would be a false alarm. Then people proceed to ignore the alarm because it's usually wrong. Now when a real earthquake occurs, those who ignore the alarm blame it on bad technology.

      I say no, this is the fault of the reaction, not the technology itself.

      A broken clock is right twice a day, so there is no need to repair it?

  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:59AM (#32603216) Journal
    High-risk parolees? A parolee is someone who has given their word (parole) that they will behave themselves and check in regularly in exchange for the privilege of spending some time outside of the prison walls. If you have to slap a GPS tracking unit on them then you don't trust their word. If so, then why are you giving them parole in the first place?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)

      Trust, but verify

    • by molo (94384) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:26AM (#32603512) Journal

      Google "California prison overcrowding".

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/14/california-prison-overcro_0_n_611281.html [huffingtonpost.com]

      -molo

    • If so, then why are you giving them parole in the first place?

      Because CA is under a court order to release 40-50K prisoners, although the Supreme Court might modify it when they get around to hearing it.

      Given that CA already doesn't jail non-violent drug offenders, I find it hard to believe that they can release 1/4 of the prisoners without releasing some seriously violent criminals. Parole, even with fancy GPS monitoring, costs a small fraction of incarceration and might actually work if implemented right.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/us/10prison.html [nytimes.com]
      http://www. [mercurynews.com]

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Furthermore, what are rapists/pedophiles/molesters/gang members doing on the streets after being arrested for a crime?

      These are the kinds of people you lock up and throw away the key, nevermind parole. Parole is for relatively minor offenses, near the end of their term.

      Meanwhile, my uncle just got out of prison: he was in San Quintin for 8 years. Why? He violated a restraining order (he had not even been made aware of) against him by his ex-wife. She got the order, then invited him over to see his daughter

      • by Fnkmaster (89084)

        I call BS on your story. A judge wouldn't order somebody jailed for 8 years for violating a restraining order that they had never been notified of. I'm guessing, as usual with these stories on Slashdot, there's more to what actually landed the guy in jail than you are saying. Otherwise it would have required any two-bit lawyer and a finding of fact that he had never been notified of the restraining order.

        My guess - he pled guilty to violating a restraining order to get charges dismissed for the other stuf

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          Yeah, there were other charges which he plea bargained away: assault. If I recall the picnic properly, she attacked him with a frying pan, backed him against a fence, and he hit her. She called the cops. This led to her deciding to not press charges until later, and then getting the restraining order...

          As I understand things, this is fairly typical. I don't care if you're gotten for aggravated assault, personally: 8 years for a first-time offense is insane, short of life-impacting grievous harm to another i

      • Furthermore, what are rapists/pedophiles/molesters/gang members doing on the streets after being arrested for a crime?

        Maybe it's because half of the four things you cite aren't crimes and thus shouldn't bear on the question of whether someone who has been arrested for a crime, any crime, should be denied bail or parole.

        Rapists and molesters have harmed someone and broken a law (presumably) and should go to jail for a long time.

        Pedophiles are people that think inappropriate dirty thoughts about little k

  • Blame the taxpayer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:16AM (#32603396) Journal

    This project probably got through on some scaremongering bill but then when the non-vote winning budget was needed, the politicians knew that the voter does not want to spend any money ever, and voted against it.

    Police costs a LOT of money. Crime costs even more but no politician has to raise taxes to fund crime.

    Take the "three-strikes" law. Interesting idea, but did anyone in favor of it ALSO vote to increase the number of jails by about a 1000%? Because ALL those rotating door criminals that were out in a couple of months are now in for life. Even if you lock them four to a cell and reduce their life expectancy that way, you still are talking about housing an awful lot of people for a bloody long time. And a life-sentence looses its meaning if they are paroled after 6 months because the need the space.

    And if you are against the "three-strikes" system? Then what is your solution and how are you going to pay for it? Prevention? Lots of cops and social workers. Re-education? lots of parole officers. Treating those with mental problems before they come to harm? Very expensive mental hospitals (which were cut and now jails fullfill their role).

    This project most likely was started as a way to aid parole officers in their job. Then it became a way to cut costs instead and now you got fewer parole officers with more duties and ever more prisoners to track.

    But hey, you got a tax cut... oh wait no. that 300 dollars has seen been added to your bills multiple times.

    Oh well. That is what you get for giving everyone the vote. You turn the running of the country into Idols.

  • If violations are so common with GPS-tagged parolees and convicts, maybe they should reconsider releasing them, eh? Certainly if it's too expensive to *actually* track them down and deal with the violations.

    I would have thought that one reason for the program was to save money by releasing low-risk, compliant convicts. If they're NOT low-risk or compliant, then back to prison they can go.

  • If you're gonna create a system, you need make plan for maintenance of said system (and fund it).. in this case it's enough eyeballs to watch alerts.. but also a policy of how to deal with false alerts (and rectify the system to try and minimize false positives.. which probably will vary by individual parolee).

    This is why KISS works.. tbh.. why don't we just outsource monitoring these alerts to some nation that might take this job seriously.. (like.. India?)

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:44AM (#32603748) Homepage

    You see this kind of shit in IT all the time: $boss gives you $new_shiny but does not give you the human resources to manage said $new_shiny, resulting in $new_shiny not being effectively used. Result: $boss jumps on your ass for not utilizing $new_shiny, even though you didn't ask for it (or asked for it with the necessary addition of more humans).

    Only difference in this case is that it's cops not IT people.

    I suspect that information inundation has something to do with it, too: how many parolees are there who are violating their parole? If it's more than a scant few, chances are they don't have the force numbers to pay attention to the alerts, never mind actually act on them.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:48AM (#32603792)
    The bracelets are there as a deterrent. As long as the parolee's believe every little alarm will be followed up with serious consequences, then the system works fine. Once they figure out that they can set the alarms off with no consequences (e.g. by reading articles like this one) then the system becomes an exercise in futility. Then you have to actually follow up on every notification, despite the fact that 99% of them are false positives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tnk1 (899206)

      Actually, I have talked to people who actually manage these programs on the commercial side as part of an informational exchange for similar sorts of technology situations (we track fleet vehicles via GPS and cellular, they track people). There are a lot of different reasons to have these programs, including:

      Making sure that the subject does not go to certain places or stays in certain places (of course)

      but also:

      Having a historical record of the whereabouts of the subject
      Determining if the subject enters t

  • What happens to a GPS device if you wrap aluminum foil around it? Does the metal make a Faraday Cage? What about mesh? For that matter, how about pants with metal mesh integrated into them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The server will send an alert that it can't communicate with the unit, and (theoretically, apparently not in CA) someone will be contacting that person to check it out.

  • "...a massive exercise in largely useless spending."

    Useless spending? By the government?

    **GASP**

  • by adolf (21054)

    I haven't read TFA. Or any comments. I'm not really sure if I will. And I'm late to the party, so the mods won't see this - bummer.

    But: I have it on good authority (as in: I personally service both the wearable and monitoring devices) that at least one county in Ohio never did care about these things to the extent that they claimed to.

    People are issued "tracking bracelets" that go around their ankles in cases of house arrest and such. But there's no centralized monitoring, at all: The only way that a

If God had a beard, he'd be a UNIX programmer.

Working...