California prison officials, in a budget-cutting move, are removing GPS tracking devices from hundreds of paroled gang members, the Sacramento Bee reports. Officials had been monitoring about 950 gang members through GPS, but they are cutting the number to 400 by July 1. GPS technology long has been lauded as an effective way of keeping track of potentially dangerous parolees, but it is hardly foolproof. Phillip Garrido was monitored by a GPS device for about 17 months during the years he held Jaycee Lee Dugard captive, but parole agents never investigated why he was spending large amounts of time in the rear of his backyard, where Dugard lived, and the agents never responded to hundreds of alerts that the device was not working.
The reductions, which are saving the state $6 million, come at a particularly difficult time for local law enforcement agencies, especially the Sacramento Police Department. “We’re not going to have any gang detectives in a week,” Officer Laura Peck said, adding that the 14-member unit is being shifted to other duties because of impending layoffs.