Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Parole wants to test a system to track parolees by global positioning satellite, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The technology would allow parole officers to pinpoint the location of a convicted felon out on parole. Representatives of General Dynamics told parole board members yesterday that their VeriTracks software can be set up to alert authorities when parolees venture into areas off-limits to sex offenders, like parks and schools. Software is available that allows law enforcement officials to check whether a parolee was in the area of an unsolved crime. The ankle monitors now in use keep an electronic log only of when parolees enter and exit their own homes.
There is one major drawback: the cost. The GPS devices would cost more than double the current cost of monitoring parolees electronically. In some cases, it would triple.
Of 22,000 Georgia felons on parole, only 728 are monitored by electronic ankle units. Parolees pay about $2.80 per day for the units, which are waterproof and required to be worn 24 hours per day, said Beth Oxford, state director of parole. The GPS units cost between $6.50 and $10 per day. Transferring all electronically monitored parolees to the new system it could cost $1.7 million to $2.7 million a year.
Parole board officials want to test the devices on a limited scale, said board member Mike Light. Light noted that releasing inmates on a closely monitored electronic system would ultimately be cheaper to taxpayers, since the average cost of incarcerating someone in Georgia is $45 per day. Oxford said the agency may seek federal or state for a $500,000 to $1 million pilot program.