US offender tracking system fails

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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