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GPS Will Track Gang Parolees

Higher-tech anklets will be used in San Bernardino as part of a statewide program.

March 15, 2006|Ashley Powers | Times Staff Writer

State corrections officials announced Tuesday that they would monitor 20 paroled gang members in San Bernardino with satellite tracking anklets typically used for high-risk sex offenders.

The program, the state's first to focus on gang members, is part of a $5.1-million effort to start tracking 500 parolees by June using the global positioning system, or GPS, devices. The larger program will monitor mostly people convicted of sex crimes.

GPS ankle bracelets are an advancement over systems that let authorities know via telephone when a parolee is not at home.

"It's a very good tool," said Joe McGrath, chief deputy secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, at a press conference with San Bernardino officials. He added that "this is no substitute for good supervision, good law enforcement."

More than half of the state's GPS ankle bracelets have been distributed, in jurisdictions including Orange and San Diego counties.

Los Angeles County is scheduled to receive about 80 units in the next month or so, said Jim L'Etoile, director of the state division of adult parole operations.

With the anklets, officials can view parolees' whereabouts 24 hours a day, being alerted if the wearer tampers with the device or enters an "exclusion zone," such as a victim's neighborhood.

Authorities can also check whether parolees have, for example, attended mandatory drug counseling or obeyed requirements of their house arrest.

San Bernardino's program targets parolees who meet criteria such as being a prison gang member or part of a gang injunction. Authorities there will also monitor 20 high-risk sex offenders with the GPS system.

UC Irvine researchers will observe the program for a year to determine its effectiveness.

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