In September, the GPS tracking system came under fire when the ankle bracelet worn by David Pollitt, a convicted serial rapist, malfunctioned. Residents who live in Pollitt’s Southbury neighborhood say the bracelets can’t be trusted.
“I don’t feel comfortable with it. It’s not reliable,” Cathy Baisch of Southbury said.
“There are so many cloaking devices and ways to run interference, not to mention the problems with the device’s construction,” said Matt Devan of Prospect.
In the state, 81 sex offenders are equipped with GPS monitoring bracelets like Pollitt’s. Neither the state, nor the company that makes them keeps count of the number of times they malfunction.
The executive director of administrative services for the judicial branch said the technology does “glitch” from time to time.
“Frankly, most of them are false alarms, things like low battery, GPS unit out of position, things like that,” said Thomas Siconolfi.
Earlier this month, New Haven police spent hours searching the Long Island Sound after a jogger found an electronic monitoring bracelet floating in the water. Police said the parolee it belonged to was never found.
Siconolfi said the bracelets use tamper-resistant technology, but will not alarm if the offender is in a dead zone.
Another problem the state is dealing with is response time. Siconolfi said it takes an average of 15 to 20 minutes for police to respond to any GPS alerts — and that’s only if the bracelet has a cell signal to communicate the violation. Some lawmakers are outraged.
“It’s absolutely too much time, because by the time the system responds to the violation of this type, the damage has been done and people have been hurt for life,” Rep. Demetrious Giannaros said.
There’s also concern when it comes to monitoring the offenders. Right now, there are no probation officers on the clock on weekends, meaning a call from the vendor to police reporting an alert could go answered.
“This is the first I’m hearing about this. It’s totally unacceptable,” Giannaros said.
Those in charge of the program wanted to fix the problem by opening a monitoring center here in Connecticut.
Right now, most offenders are monitored by employees in Florida. It carried a price tag of $400,000 and at last check, was put on hold indefinitely.