California GPS Devices for Parolees Found Defective
April 1, 2013 2:26 PM
The state has replaced them all with new ankle bracelets
The state of California made a shocking discovery about its GPS monitoring
devices for parolees
: they weren't working.
A little more than a year ago, California started testing its devices for parolees and found out that they weren't as effective as once thought. Location tracking was off by as much as three miles, cases were cracked and batteries died early.
Parolees were even able to bypass tracking by covering the devices with foil (which interfered with the GPS signals), moving into buildings (which also interfere with GPS signals) and using illegal GPS jammers.
After this startling revelation, the state took all GPS devices in use at the time and replaced them with monitoring gadgets from another manufacturer.
When California deployed the monitoring devices in 2008, it used devices from two different manufacturers: 3M Co. and Satellite Tracking of People (STOP). 3M was used on 4,000 parolees in all but six California counties, while STOP covered the rest of the state.
But when California decided to stick with only one manufacturer to make things easier, it went with 3M.
However, 3M's devices proved to be severely faulty. In later testing in 2011, 3M's devices failed to meet 46 of 102 field test standards. More specifically, the
devices failed to collect a GPS location
every minute, phone in the information every 10 minutes and send a text message to the parole agent if a problem occurred. As it turned out, 3M only collected 45 percent of the possible GPS points.
"This is one agency's testing," said Steve Chapin, vice president of government relations for 3M's electronic monitoring division. "We have the most widely used system in the world. It's been proven time and time and time again to be very safe and reliable."
Corrections attorneys were able to convince a judge to seal the information about the device failures in a lawsuit over the GPS contracting. GPS Program Director Denise Milano said the results could not only help parolees learn how to break the law, but it would also cause the public to distrust such devices.
In February, a Sacramento County judge ruled that Milano violated state contract laws, and also found 3M's devices to be faulty.
Parolees in California have been switched over to STOP devices since April 2012.
"Neither 3M nor STOP can produce a device that will read the offender's mind to determine his or her intent, so the devices can only 'assume' that a tamper is intentional," 3M said.
The Los Angeles Times
"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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