A flood of electronic alerts that was inundating California parole
agents has dropped by half since The Associated Press first reported
the problem two years ago.
The alerts are generated by
satellite-linked ankle bracelets strapped to paroled sex offenders. They
send alarms when offenders tamper with the devices, stray into areas
where they're not supposed to be or move too far away from home.
the 1.5 million alerts sent by the bracelets in 2009-10, the first two
years of the state's electronic monitoring program, overwhelmed parole
agents. Typical parole agents spent 44 percent of their workweek
reviewing the computer-tracked movements of parolees and just 12 percent
in the field, according to an internal California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation report obtained by the AP at the time.
The number of alerts dropped to less than 744,000 for 2011-12,
according to updated information obtained under a state Public Records
Several categories of alerts have diminished even
more since July 2012, when the state went from two service providers to
just one, Houston-based Satellite Tracking of People LLC. Changes in the
programming of the GPS-linked bracelets in June 2011 and October 2012
also led to fluctuations in the number of alerts.
— In 2009-10,
there were 1,520,591 alerts given off by electronic monitors in the
following categories: 876 device tampers; 355,936 strap tampers; 17,017
exclusion zone alerts; 193,697 low batteries; 883,211 inclusion zone
alerts; 69,854 message gaps.
— In 2011-12, there were 743,544
total alerts in the following categories: 536 device tampers; 92,174
strap tampers; 56,533 exclusion zone alerts; 86,451 low batteries;
408,658 inclusion zone alerts; 99,192 message gaps.
Among the recent changes:
Satellite Tracking of People does not track device tamper alerts, and
strap tamper alerts declined last year when the company let parole
agents turn off the alarm while they investigated any initial alert
showing that a parolee had damaged the strap securing the tracking
device. The state also ended low battery alerts last fall in part
because newer devices have extended battery life.
— The department
decreased the time that ankle bracelets can be out of contact because
of a blocked cellphone signal, which sharply increased the number of
alerts due to what are known as message gaps.
— Exclusion zone
alerts warn parole agents when a paroled sex offender approaches a
prohibited area such as a school, park or playground. They can vary
periodically when agents add or subtract zones, for instance if parolees
are temporarily barred from an area where a county fair is underway.
Inclusion zone alerts tell agents when paroled sex offenders leave
certain areas, for instance when they leave their homes, pass beyond a
10-mile radius of their community or leave California. The number of
alerts fluctuated dramatically in the last two years as the state made
technical adjustments in the way the zones are monitored.
Original Story >