We’ve mentioned the United States’ worst big-city police department, Washington DC, under the incompetent managent of various politicians including affirmative-action hire Chief Cathy Lanier. But even when the cops catch the criminals, DC continues to fail the non-criminal public. One way is in its lax monitoring of youthful offenders. The amusingly named Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, which monitors young felons in the interstitial period between their first felonies and their coming of age and going to the Big House, places great faith in GPS-enabled ankle monitors.
They have identified a few problems with the devices:
- The crims cut them off “with a knife or scissors.”
- The crims shield them with metal so they can’t receive a GPS signal.
- Some crims can stretch the “flimsy straps” and slip the thing off.
- The monitor has a battery and goes dead if the crim doesn’t recharge it.
- The “youth workers” assigned to monitor the GPS signals can only access the signal locations from inside HQ.
- Removing or tampering with the device is a low-level misdemeanor, but the police and DYRS never, ever charge a violator with even this misdemeanor.
- But surely there are administrative sanctions for tampering with or destroying anklet while on conditional release? No, nothing. The criminal is returned to conditional release with a fresh anklet. Even if he does it a dozen times.
- Criminals not usually being masterminds, the crims go on committing crimes, even violent crimes, with the GPS anklets in place.
A few GPS-wearer war stories from the Washington Times (warning, page is infected with Undertone virus/malware):
ITEM: Tyran McElrath was already in trouble with the law when he sneaked through a rear window of a Northwest D.C. home last year in the course of a burglary.
Inside, the 18-year-old encountered an 81-year-old woman who was legally blind. He savagely beat her and ransacked her house. (McElrath pled guilty after the GPS trace led cops to him — Ed.)
ITEM: [Kevon Austin,] a DYRS ward with a history of attempting to thwart electronic monitoring — including wrapping one device with aluminum foil in an attempt to interfere with its signal — let the battery drain on his ankle bracelet the day after receiving it.
An hour later, a witness placed [him] near the scene of a fatal shooting around Gallaudet University in Northeast, and prosecutors charged him with the homicide. (The prosecutors or cops bungled the prosecution, and Austin, the sole suspect, walked).
ITEM: A 19-year-old man facing charges in connection with a March shooting that injured 13 people on North Capitol Street was at the time of the incident wearing a GPS device assigned by the District’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. (Note, different agency, same city, same problem).
via Teen thugs in DC run wild — even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets – Washington Times. (remember, Undertone malware).
The problem isn’t unique to DC. The Times also notes that in New York, “a man on pretrial release raped a child and killed a woman,” and California has seen a jump in the percentage of criminals removing the devices.
Bottom line: a GPS monitor is no substitute for a cell and/or high bail, in the case of violent criminals — youthful or not. It’s a failure both at public safety and at youth rehabilitation.