Offenders, many in rural areas, say they have been jailed due to technical problems with bracelets; some experts question value of lifetime monitoring.
Courts are wrestling with whether electronic monitoring is too intrusive; meanwhile, Europe uses the technology sparingly over civil-rights concerns.
Ten percent of offenders scramble to find places to plug in bracelets, some cut them off, and local laws make it hard for released sex offenders to find housing.
Robert S. Gable and his twin brother invented one of the first monitoring systems for criminal offenders; he is dismayed by how they are used today.
A Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report on problems regarding the use of GPS devices to monitor convicted offenders was a factor in the decision of state lawmakers to delay approval of some funding sought by the state Department of Corrections for program expansion, and seek a study on the program’s effectiveness.
“People are concerned with the accuracy of the GPS monitoring devices,” said state Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, citing the Center’s report.
In response to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report, Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, called a hearing to question Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials about the reliability of GPS monitoring of offenders.
From January 2011 to November 2012, Aaron Hicks was arrested at least 12 times for parole violations related to his GPS monitor, spending 74 days in jail, records show.
Thirteen offenders told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism that Wisconsin’s GPS tracking system repeatedly fails, registering false alerts and landing the offenders in jail although they had done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker is proposing an expansion of nearly 50 percent in the number of offenders monitored by GPS devices.
How can Wisconsin’s electronic monitoring using GPS devices be made more reliable and effective? Suggestions drawn from interviews with experts.