One in every four GPS devices used to track serious criminals released in Los Angeles County has proved faulty, allowing violent felons to roam undetected for days or, in some cases, weeks, says a probation department audit reported by the Los Angeles Times. The problems included batteries not holding charges and defective electronics that generated excessive false alarms. One felon had to have his GPS monitor replaced 11 times in a year; for five days during the 45-day audit period, his whereabouts were unknown.
“If you have faulty technology, that is a recipe for disaster,” said Reaver Bingham, deputy chief of the probation department. The findings were issued as nearly every California county moves forward with some form of electronic monitoring to contend with tens of thousands of state inmates being released to their supervision under “realignment” to reduce prison overcrowding. In Kern County, officials have instituted a “virtual jail.” San Bernardino County is using GPS to track its homeless felons. And Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has floated a proposal to move 3,000 inmates out of crowded jails and into the community wearing GPS trackers.