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California Tracks Parolees With GPS, Then Ignores Alerts

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the put-google-on-the-case dept.

Crime 160

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."

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Won't somebody think of the children! (2, Insightful)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602788)

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?

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602932)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602982)

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...."

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (3, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 4 years ago | (#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...

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603134)

No, with her you just assume she's drinking, use the GPS to locate her and well..you're never wrong.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (2, Interesting)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603662)

Maybe so, but they still have time to deal with a high profile case like her before the sex offenders.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (4, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#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)?

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603678)

"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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (5, Insightful)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603018)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603356)

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

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32604416)

I live in San Diego, one of the most idiotic knee-jerking cities for this ever since that offender raped and killed those 2 girls, and the problem in TFA was just described in a recent newspaper.

The problem with those things is that there are too many damn false alarms(such as the bracelets accidentally breaking or running low on power), or true alarms which don't warrant attention(for example, when a person who's supposed to stay 2000 feet away from a school has to briefly come within 1900 feet on their way home etc.)

It's kinda like UAC: when so many seemingly insignificant warnings keep popping up, you learn to ignore the messages and keep clicking "OK."

-- Althanol-powered
( posting incognito as anti-establishment viewpoints are not welcome in S.D. )

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603174)

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.

Yeah, they're too busy arresting and fining people for nonviolent drug offenses to be bothered with such trivial things like gang members and sex offenders.

Seriously. End the war on drugs. Now. Then be amazed at the vast law enforcement resources that become available to prosecute crimes that cannot be described as "victimless". We sure do hate common sense in this country.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603534)

Yeah, they're too busy arresting and fining people for nonviolent drug offenses to be bothered with such trivial things like gang members and sex offenders.

I'd mod this up if I could.

we as a people need to get over the whole "drugs can be bad for EVERYBODY" kick. legalize -> distribute -> make some money and make people aware of what some of them can do to you.

though, oxycontin is perfectly legal as we type, and yet there have been four stores in my city alone that have been robbed at gunpoint for their 10-20 Gram reserves.

the only way to remove demand is to provide a supply. making it a criminal offence to possess/distribute only leads to a market of majority, which means that a minority of people are trying to tell a majority of voters what's good for them.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603766)

The victims are not your friends, your family, and hopefully, not you.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (2, Insightful)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603422)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

sepiid (1060020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603456)

they were under funded because they spent all the money on gps trackers that they were not going to use. this is typical big brother / gooberment

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602984)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (3, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603130)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (4, Interesting)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603554)

If you ever get fitted with an ankle bracelet wrap it in tinfoil for 24 hours and see what happens. If the answer is nothing (as it is in the UK and appears to be in California) then you can return to your life of crime without being tracked.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603568)

there's automatically a log file held on GPS satellite of what device ID requested their position?
that's not how the system works.

just because they SHOULD be monitoring and logging all this data, doesn't mean they are. being public infrastructure: I'd like to see how it works, see how the data is logged, see where it's physically kept, see how the software works,

what are my chances as a taxpayer to review government operation? hmmn? anybody know the details?

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604026)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604302)

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.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (3, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603010)

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 high profile murder case just this year where the guy was out on parole, violated parole almost ten times, had a psychologist evaluate him an a major risk, but no one did boo about it. No one cared, and another young woman was slaughtered for no damn reason.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (3, Insightful)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

dear unions: (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603268)

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 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

the unions help drive jobs out of the country by demanding far too much for workers. the irony being, in china, people are now unionizing, get this, against the communist government's wishes (that extra twist of historical irony practically makes my head explode)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/business/global/11strike.html [nytimes.com]

is it possible in this world to have the balance of power between the unions and the corportatists simply give workers a decent wage and keep jobs domestic and keep goods and services affordable?

and can GOVERNMENT unions simply be mandated out of existence, please?

Re:dear unions: (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603390)

unions are an epiphenomenon of the underlying cause.

Re:dear unions: (4, Insightful)

infinite9 (319274) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603880)

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

Re:dear unions: (2, Interesting)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603758)

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 into the ground and get their golden parachute when they 'resign' while the other execs vote themselves raises and keep their bonuses under the guise of "retaining quality employees" (the same employees that have been running themselves into the ground).

It's not the unions that suck, its greedy human beings that suck. Just because the business card says Committee man or Union Delegate doesn't make their actions any different than someone whose card says MBA or CFO. Greedy entitled pricks are greedy entitled pricks. At least when they were hiring pinkertons the pinkerton agent wasn't telling you that what he was doing was "good for the company" or was what was "right for our shareholders" while you took a beating.

There are plenty of fatcat pricks in unions (just like how there are plenty of useless factcat pricks where you work. They're not a union specific breed), but that doesn't mean that a *funded* pension, decent health care, and a good wage are evil awful naughty things that only liberals believe in.

Re:dear unions: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603802)

is it possible in this world to have the balance of power between the unions and the corportatists simply give workers a decent wage and keep jobs domestic and keep goods and services affordable?

Absolutely. The perfect balance of unionists and corporatists is to have none of either. Both of your options are absolutely horrible, and should be replaced with well-regulated capitalism.

Re:dear unions: (4, Informative)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603844)

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:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

nigelo (30096) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604446)

"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:Won't somebody think of the children! (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603024)

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:Won't somebody think of the children! (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603610)

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't say it is because he is overpaid, but that is the case.

I support three-strikes laws. If one is going to be an habitual repeat offender, I see no need to let one out.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603738)

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 paralyzed at all!!

The shitbird didn't stay free for long though. The inept bungler was recaptured, without resistance, in about a week.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/12/02/texas.escaped.prisoner/ [cnn.com]

Oh - another story of ineptitude, in Houston. A teen was arrested, searched, taken to the local jail, and during his booking, he was "strip searched". No cop is allowed in the same room with him while naked, so you have one cop looking in through a doorway on one side, and another cop looking in through a doorway from the other side. The kid managed to smuggle a pistol into his jail cell, because the cops couldn't watch the kid.

I'll bet every state in this country has similar stories to tell. People joke about backwoods inbred Arkansans - but we had a scene out of one of those stupid movies. A prisoner sweet talked the jail warden's wife into giving him a gun and a vehicle.

Phhht.

As long as there are people, we can be assured that stupidity will survive.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (-1, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603850)

"If you are wondering why the prisons in California are so full,"

Because California wants (in contrast to Arizona) to get as many illegals as possible into their state.

Enjoy your Reconquista, my Leftist Left Coast friends:

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/3/27/114208.shtml [newsmax.com]

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603954)

What, are you suggesting they release all those extremely dangerous potheads? Imagine all the non-violent acts they'd unleash on the communities.

Re:Won't somebody think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32604322)

Someone is thinking of the children, but the police aren't monitoring his GPS tag.

Just dial it in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32602804)

Don't need to track an explosive collar or anklet. Just remotely detonate.

Re:Just dial it in... (5, Funny)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603004)

Weeeee. Let's play surprise suicide bomber!

Re:Just dial it in... (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603162)

An explosive collar can easily be designed to just kill the wearer.

Re:Just dial it in... (1)

sleeping143 (1523137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603278)

You say that like you're well experienced in the matter.

Re:Just dial it in... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603450)

Humans are squishy. You can blow off your hand with a fire cracker. A ring of firecrackers with a metal exterior around your neck would probably blow off your head and do no damage to anyone else.

Re:Just dial it in... (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603486)

I considered something like this after my car stereo was stolen the second time.

I thought it might be fun to have the real stereo disguised, and a modified (explosive) pullout stereo in plain view. The theory was that a transmitter could exist in the car, and a receiver/battery/detonator would be installed in the modified pullout stereo. When the stereo exceeded the transmitter range, detonation.

Wasn't there an explosive collar in an Governator movie? They breach the perimeter and it starts flashing and beeping to inform them that their head is about to be removed.

For the bracelet/anklet, why not a lethal injection instead of an explosion? Violate house arrest, and die walking to the liquor store. The only problem I see with that idea is if an actual emergency occurred (house on fire?) they would be dead either way.

Re:Just dial it in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603828)

Wasn't there an explosive collar in an Governator movie? They breach the perimeter and it starts flashing and beeping to inform them that their head is about to be removed.

Indeed. The Running Man.

And I must admit I had the same thought as the AC above.

moron tracking california & ignoring results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32602866)

it looks a little shaky. just another day in pairadice?

Re:moron tracking california & ignoring result (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602996)

It's criminal tracking, not moron tracking. If they were tracking morons they'd just set up shop in Sacramento and/or Washington ;)

Re:moron tracking california & ignoring result (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603060)

I vote for Walmart. California is where Julia Roberts molests my asshole with a corn fork. I love this state!

This is what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32602900)

Necessary Evils are only used to victimize the innocent, never to protect them.

I disagree (5, Insightful)

Midnight's Shadow (1517137) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I disagree (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603008)

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

FTFY

Some problems are pretty isolated to just America. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603286)

I see Americans do this a lot. They take a problem that's common throughout the American political system, and try to play down its negativity by suggesting it's a problem that's common elsewhere.

In reality, that's just not the case. In South Korea, Japan, Scandinavia and throughout Europe, the government actually works for the people. Then again, they don't have two shitty parties, but numerous smaller parties who have to work together, and who will quickly be replaced if they deliver only bullshit promises, rather than action, to the electorate.

Most other democracies and republics aren't like America. They aren't two party systems, where both parties are corporate-controlled. Thus many of the problems with American politics are quite isolated just to American politics. To claim they exist elsewhere is just not true, and indicative of a complete ignorance of foreign governments.

Re:I disagree (4, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I disagree (1)

broggyr (924379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603874)

Oh, the Irony!

Spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32604298)

Let's not lose track of the primary goal here: to spend money. Why is spending money the goal? Because at the top of the power pyramid, as long as the money passes through your hands, you win. It doesn't matter where it goes or whether it "succeeds" in achieving their "goals". What matters is that the money passes through your hands, giving you a chance to exploit it for personal gain.

There's a reason why every year government costs more, and it's certainly not because government is getting better. It's because the more money passing through the business of government, the more lucrative the business of government for those who control it.

GPS Is New! (1)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602950)

“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 ?

Re:GPS Is New! (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603214)

To be honest I didn't even realize that GPS was a science...

Re:GPS Is New! (1)

krzy123 (1201507) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604354)

C'mon man, what do you think the S stood for. Science!

-1 Flamebait on the summary (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602962)

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.

Re:-1 Flamebait on the summary (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603682)

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.

Re:-1 Flamebait on the summary (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603854)

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 :(

Re:-1 Flamebait on the summary (1)

Thunderbuck_YT (911075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604102)

Yes, I agree. The raw data is only as useful as its interpretation. If the resources aren't out there to conduct that interpretation properly, then it invalidates the whole approach.

This is not to far away from the rape kits that have been stockpiled all over the US because the money isn't there to send them off to the crime lab.

GPS tracking is an outstanding concept. It allows convicts to live out in the world, with the understanding that if they cross certain geographic boundaries, they run the risk of intervention from the law. This can aid rehabilitation, if those boundaries are enforced, and it saves a pantload of money on housing them in jail.

One use I'd like to see: many repeat drunk drivers find ways to get access to vehicles, even with lifetime license bans. Set an alert on such a convict so that if they're travelling over, say, 30 mph, it sends an alert and if there's a patrol nearby, get them to pull the vehicle over and see if the convict is the one behind the wheel. Even if he isn't, it sends the message that he is always running the risk of being caught...

Deja vu all over again (0, Troll)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32602980)

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

Damn, there was some other government project that fit this description, which I can't seem to remember just now...

Re:Deja vu all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603198)

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

Damn, there was some other government project that fit this description, which I can't seem to remember just now...

The DMV computer upgrade?
The Emissions Test computer systems installation and upgrade?

I am not sure what you are talking about...

A modest proposal (3, Funny)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:A modest proposal (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Maybe they can team up with these blokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603082)

Saudi Killer Chip [beforeitsnews.com]

Not to be dramatic, but never has it appeared that the future could so easily go either way. Maybe people have always felt this, that they were living in such a time, but they didn't have "the curve" of accelerating technology to deal with.

Need moar expensive, custom software! (2, Insightful)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603086)

"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.

Panopticon Failure (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603138)

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.

Badly managed, yes. But... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603154)

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 warrant automatically, with judicial approval already in place for cases such as this where there was a material violation of the terms of parole/probation.

Re:Badly managed, yes. But... (4, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Badly managed, yes. But... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603938)

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.

Problem lies between monitor and chair (3, Insightful)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Problem lies between monitor and chair (2, Insightful)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604350)

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?

High Risk Parolees? (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603216)

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:High Risk Parolees? (1)

techwrench (586424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603292)

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?

Thank you for asking that intelligent question. It seems that most people forget why a High-Risk prisoner is prison in the first place.

Re:High Risk Parolees? (2, Informative)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603460)

Trust, but verify

Re:High Risk Parolees? (1)

orangefoodie (762261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603496)

Because parole is incredibly convenient for the judicial system, saving resources they don't have. You offer the guy a deal for parole when he first gets in the system. Seems like an easy logical choice right? Then when he violates it (an incredibly common affair), you get to shove him in jail for the parole violation with no trial, no plea, no nothing. IANAL, but this is what a practicing lawyer in CA has told me. It's more than slightly ridiculous, but that's what happens when you're hamstrung by a retarded 3 strikes law among other things.

Re:High Risk Parolees? (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603914)

You offer the guy a deal for parole when he first gets in the system. Seems like an easy logical choice right? Then when he violates it (an incredibly common affair), you get to shove him in jail for the parole violation with no trial, no plea, no nothing. IANAL, but this is what a practicing lawyer in CA has told me. It's more than slightly ridiculous, but that's what happens when you're hamstrung by a retarded 3 strikes law among other things.

(1) The guy doesn't have to take parole if he doesn't want to. Parole is voluntary.

(2) You would think that he could abide the terms of parole given that the State could lawfully be holding him in jail. What is the thought process: "They are letting me out of my passed sentence on the condition that I don't drink and drive but I think I'll pound a few beers and drive home anyway"?

(3) 3 strikes is retarded in implementation but not in concept. People thrice convicted of bona-fide violent crimes (assault, robbery, rape) should get 25-life. People thrice convicted of shoplifting should get a weekend in jail and a vocational class. The idea that we cannot distinguish between those obviously different crimes is absurd.

Hence people like me are in the ridiculous position of having to defend the concept of 3S while concurrently explaining that shoplifting and other minor crimes were never part of our plan. People that repeatedly violate the fundamental human rights of others (to wit, the rights not to be robbed, raped or beaten) need to be imprisoned.

Re:High Risk Parolees? (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603768)

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/news/ci_15293678?nclick_check=1 [mercurynews.com]

Re:High Risk Parolees? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603804)

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 (with a *wink wink*). He arrived to find several police offers at the door, who promptly took him to jail.

California is all sorts of fucked: in the first place for putting people like my uncle in prison at all, but likewise for this crazy bullshit of letting their most dangerous types out. You don't let these people out. It's like a septic tank: if it's full, you flush it properly; you don't drain it into the municipal water.

Re:High Risk Parolees? (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604272)

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 stuff he actually did that he was never convicted of (like a bad case of domestic violence or something comparable). That seems to be the common theme here on Slashdot when people say "so-and-so was put in jail for X years for Y minor offense! Look how unfair the justice system is!"

Obviously, there are miscarriages of justice out there, but they usually occur where there's at least an accusation of a far more significant crime than violating a restraining order.

Re:High Risk Parolees? (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604384)

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 kids. Until they actually become molesters, they haven't hurt anybody. Their status as creeps shouldn't bear on the grant of bail or parole.

And gang members? That's not a crime and shouldn't be considered, either. To quote a city councilman in Houston when the city was debating an anti-gang ordinance: "Show me a definition of 'gang' that doesn't apply to the Boy Scouts and I'll consider voting aye."

1. GPS 2. ??? 3. Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32603264)

1. Get convicted
2. Obtain GPS monitoring device instead of prison sentence
3. Start your own "GPS monitored criminals" social community website
4. Organize flash-mob event for all criminals simultaneously
5. Profit - or at least hilarity

Gps sucks in many places. (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603316)

The number of false positives is absurd. Spending a lot of money to go out to see if the criminal is really flown the coop or if a stupid cloud has gotten between the GPS and the satellite or even worse the cell tower. Especially if it's anything like the iPhone. I wrote an app to interface the GPS technology on the iPhone. The GPS there used cellphone tower triangulation. This app was hobbled by the piss poor GPS API and unreliability. The thing was constantly telling my program that the iphone was moving between 10 and 24 mph while it was sitting on a desk in Colorado Springs! Another iPhone's stock gps program from Apple could not pinpoint a location any closer than 3 miles in Chico CA. It reminds me of the state of optical character recognition where the accuracy is so bad, its better to type the document in than try to correct the computer's absurd guesses.

Re:Gps sucks in many places. (1)

fuzzylollipop (851039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603378)

this is FUD, my 3GS pin points me in the building I am IN within a few dozen meters, and outside it is dead on. Also state of the art OCR is pretty close to 100% for the right use cases, my bank scans my checks at an ATM machine and reads hand written deposit amounts with 100% accuracy every time I have deposited a check that way. If you last experiences with these technologies were in the early nineties you might have something, but now in 2010 you just sound like a Luddite.

Blame the taxpayer (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603396)

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.

Re:Blame the taxpayer (0, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603994)

Prisons are too expensive because they fail to treat the prisoner as an enemy to be broken and are mere warehouses.

This (0, Offtopic)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603432)

This whole planet is a prison.

Another side to this... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603664)

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.

Did someone forget about maintence? (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603742)

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?)

You see this shit in IT all the time. (2, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603748)

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.

They screwed themselves by publicizing this (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Use the people monitoring SCRAM bracelets... (1)

kimgkimg (957949) | more than 4 years ago | (#32603998)

They seem to be monitoring those alerts at the micro-second level. Just ask Lindsay Lohan...

Tin foil Anklets!!! (1)

Photo_Nut (676334) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604146)

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:Tin foil Anklets!!! (2, Informative)

Coffee Warlord (266564) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604254)

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.

If they have shown that they are high risk (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32604318)

If they have shown that they are high risk,then why are they paroled in the first place? Parole is a reward for good behavior in prison. Do we want violent criminals released before non violent criminals? Both are risks i guess, one might kill me or my family or one might steal everything i have,which one would you choose?
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