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The GPS monitoring system – which holds more than two million records – went offline on Tuesday leaving authorities in 49 states blind to offender’s movements for around 12 hours.
BI Incorporated, which runs the system, said the problem was caused by a data overload.
As a result, prisons and correction agencies were prevented for receiving notifications on tens of thousands of people nationwide.
In Wisconsin prison officials made local police and probation agents detain around 140 offenders at local jails until the system was back up.
Those temporarily imprisoned had not previously been aware they were being tracked, Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert confirmed.
Correction Secretary Rick Raemisch declared in a statement: ‘Due to a system failure beyond our control, we faced a challenging and unprecedented event for our Electronic Monitoring Center.’
He added though ‘the situation was managed safely and efficiently with the number one priority being public safety’.
BI spokesman Jock Waldo said the company had significantly increased its data storage capacity but ‘in retrospect… should have been able to catch this’.
Mr Waldo said tracking devices had continued to record the movement of offenders, parolees and other convicts, but the information was not immediately available to local authorities.
He added those being tracked, and not brought in as a precaution on Tuesday, were unaware of any problems with the system.
Along with GPS systems, the outage affected in-home radio monitoring – commonly used to check curfew compliance and breathalyser tests – Mr Waldo told the AP news agency.
BI workers were unaware how quickly the offender database was filling up before exceeding its limit on Tuesday, he added.
‘People in our development group knew there was a threshold,’ the spokesman said. ‘They’ve never in their careers… seen a system hit such a database threshold. It speaks of the enormity of the data we collect.’
BI has contracts with around 900 government agencies across the country for monitoring and notification services.
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly included a photograph of electronic tagging equipment which, it has been pointed out to us, was not involved in the system failure.
An electronic GPS monitoring system tracking sex offenders and parolees across the US shut down for half a day, leaving authorities in 49 states blind to offenders’ movements for about 12 hours, authorities said.
A system operated by Colorado-based BI Incorporated unexpectedly hit its data storage capacity, which blocked notifications to prisons and other corrections agencies on about 16,000 people being tracked, BI spokesman Jock Waldo said.
Tracking devices continued to record movement, but corrections agencies couldn’t immediately view the data.
Mr Waldo said the company has substantially increased its data storage capacity and hasn’t heard of any safety issues, and the people being monitored were unaware of any problems.
“In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this,” Waldo said.
In Wisconsin, the shut down affected tracking for about 300 people, most of them sex offenders.
Prison officials had local police and probation agents detain about 140 sex offenders at local jails until the system was back up and their whereabouts during the outage could be confirmed. The offenders were never aware they weren’t being tracked, Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert said.
“Due to a system failure beyond our control, we faced a challenging and unprecedented event for our Electronic Monitoring Centre,” Wisconsin Department of Correction Secretary Rick Raemisch said in a statement.
But he added that thanks to the agency’s emergency plan and cooperation from local law enforcement, “the situation was managed safely and efficiently with the number one priority being public safety”. By: The Press Association.
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