Hundreds of ankle monitors malfunction – sometimes on their own
February 11, 2018 09:32 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. – Shanna Lynn Smith has evaded police not once, but twice.
After she tried to flee authorities in Clovis in December of 2015, Smith was being tracked with a state-issued GPS ankle monitor, which was tampered with less than two years later in September 2017.
She's been on the run ever since.
According to GPS data 4 Investigates obtained from the Department of Corrections, the DOC received 253 ankle monitor alerts from August 1, 2017, until Nov. 1, 2017. 50 of those ankle monitors remained broken for long periods of time – sometimes weeks.
4 Investigates found that, in that same time frame, 467 offenders on ankle monitors had a device that could not obtain a GPS position for anywhere from two minutes to 25 minutes.
Those are connectivity blackouts that prevent probation or parole officers from tracking the criminal.
Rose Bobchak, director of the DOC's Probation and Parole Division, said a tamper alert doesn’t always mean the defendant interfered with the device. Sometimes, the probationer or parolee is abiding by their terms of release and the device is simply broken.
"I believe the public needs to understand and be educated that GPS monitors are a tool,” Bobchak said. “They are not a 100 percent (certainty)."
Based in Boulder, Colorado, BI Incorporated is the company that provides New Mexico with its GPS ankle monitors, via a $1.14 million contract.
Bobchak insists that BI Incorporated is the best option for the state.
"Over my 25 years in probation and parole, we have utilized different companies throughout my career in utilizing GPS monitoring. I can tell you, based on the technology that we have available to us in the nation, the majority of these companies all offer the same technology,” he said.
A spokesperson for BI Incorporated told 4 Investigates that they are confident in the equipment and are working with state officials regarding the defective equipment.
A DOC spokesperson said the alternative is to put more offenders in prison. State officials, meanwhile, told 4 Investigates that solution is not practical, and would also deny many offenders the chance to start their lives over.
Updated: February 11, 2018 09:32 PM
Created: February 11, 2018 08:36 PM
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