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Anklet Alerts From Convicts on Probation Are Apparently Ignored a Lot

A man with an ankle monitor allegedly apprehended by police (Photo by Chris Yarzab via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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Anklet monitors for high-risk convicts on probation may seem like a good idea on paper, but Los Angeles County probation officers are reportedly ignoring a lot of the alerts from them.That’s because they’re getting bombarded with “tens of thousands” of messages, according to expert Matthew DeMichele, who was a researcher for the American Probation and Parole Assn. and co-wrote the Justice Department's guide on electronic monitoring, the Los Angeles Times reports. When probation officers are getting some 40,000 alerts a month, or 1,000 a day, it becomes difficult to wade through all the false positives,

“In some ways, GPS vendors are selling law enforcement agencies, politicians, the public a false bag of goods,” DeMichele said.

The GPS anklets are used to track the locations of the highest-risk convicts, thereby helping with prison overcrowding. But the influx of messages includes low-batterly and blocked-signal alerts, and audits found more than a dozen cases in which devices were dead and convicts were free to roam unmonitored.

Meanwhile, nearly every county in the state is preparing to expand the use of GPS devices to track criminals rather than incarcerate them.