On parole but free to go anywhere

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) –When it comes to GPS, many of us don’t just accept it, we rely on it.

“I stopped memorizing street names, I stopped memorizing a lot of things,” said one New Haven resident. “I rely on my phone”

But when it comes to Connecticut prisoners leaving their sentence, how well do we, as a state, keep track of them?

The state has more than 200 inmates that… as part of their release have to be monitored by GPS. It is technology similar to the GPS signal in your cell phone. It shows where parolees are and when. According to one person, currently on parole for felony charges, the bracelets do not work.

“They don’t hold charge. There’s no GPS signal. They just don’t work,” he said.

A parolee came to us to show how well the Department of Correction’s bracelet monitoring works. The system, identified as “ProTech,” has the parolee carrying a small black box in his pocket, along with a secured ankle bracelet. Together, they track his location and whether he is back to his residence before a predetermined curfew.

He says the state does not know where he is at all times.

“Definitely not.”

In a video provided to the News 8 Investigators, the parolee holds up that black box after it was removed from the charger. It shows the battery draining immediately, until it signals that the battery needs to be charged. The video is time stamped January 1, 2014. Since then, he said, the same issue has been repeating.

When asked how many times he has had a bracelet changed, the parolee said half a dozen.

We asked the Department of Correction to provide us audits, or internal documents related to the GPS monitoring. Citing privacy and an exemption in the states Freedom of Information law, they blocked all inquiries.

They did issue the following statement:

Issues with any of our technology tools, such as GPS, are vigorously investigated with direct communication between the Department of Correction and the companies themselves. The offenders are responsible for their GPS device, to include the timely reporting of any problems with the device. We hold offenders accountable for non-compliance.

For every single ankle bracelet, taxpayers pay $11.71 per day.

“That’s an issue not only of public safety but an issue of taxpayer dollars,” said state Senator Dante Bartolomeo (D-13th District). “If they’re not working, we deserve an explanation why.”

The parolee had also recorded a technician who came to replace an allegedly defective bracelet.

“Have you ever seen one of them do that,” asks the parolee on the tape. “Yeah. But I tell people this is electronics. They can always go bad on you,” said a voice on the tape identified as the technician.

“They definitely know because they have them come and replace them every other week,” said the parolee. “You’re not protecting anything. It is a gimmick. It is a joke, a complete joke.
Now one lawmaker… wants answers.

“If there are breaches, we need to be alerted to them and they need to be fixed immediately,” said Bartolomeo.

The state is currently phasing these bracelets out of service, switching to a 3M model.

 

Here’s a look at what Connecticut inmates must agree to as conditions of their parole. Link: http://www.ct.gov/doc/lib/doc/pdf/paroleconditions.pdf

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