California agents began tracking 800 parolees in January, marking a major expansion of a GPS program first used on paroled sex offenders, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The program aims to monitor 1,000 parolees by year’s end at roughly $9,500 each annually. Officials touted the program yesterday in the midst of Operation Gangbusters, a multiagency sweep. By the late afternoon, parole agents and police officers had arrested 48 people, seized two guns and two machetes, and picked up four parolees who had allegedly absconded from supervision.
Mark Morris, 22, who had his GPS unit updated yesterday, said the plastic device served as a constant visual reminder to stay out of trouble. “It helps me think more about what I’m doing,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing.” Last month, Robert Ambroselli, state director of adult parole, said gang members wearing the units were prohibited from entering Oakland’s downtown area during the protests after the verdict in the trial of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle.