Probe of GPS monitoring of suspected serial killers sought Los Angeles Times SACRAMENTO — The leader of the state Senate is seeking an investigation into how two sex offenders being monitored by parole agents and tracked by GPS devices were…
Stories like this really don’t help the cause. Whilst there are often great success stories, there are many cases of employing technology, fitting it and then not managing it effectively. This can easily lead to failure which in many cases is worse than not using it at all.
If GPS is used as a condition of parole, it means that the ‘offender’ is at risk of something, that could be re-offending, skipping, or consorting with people they shouldn’t. If systems aren’t monitored and people who break those conditions, not punished swiftly, showing that the monitoring did in fact work, then you might as well not bother in the first place.
There is incredibly sophisticated software today that can monitor all types of known behaviors, monitor trends, monitor relationships between people and places and with smart systems and information known about behaviors of different types of people. Someone at a monitor or in a control room doesn’t have to watch individuals. Everything can be managed by exception reporting.
Insurance and finance companies are already doing this to help people by cars to get to work on the condition of users being monitored. This has helped a great many people who haven’t had to fall back into a life of crime, who might not get the finance they need to by a car to get to work for example.
It has to start with education, understanding what different knowledge based systems can do. Tracking offenders with GPS or other technologies is important, but it is only the mechanics of the solution. It has to start at the purpose. Some of those purposes might be:
- To ensure people are obeying their parole rules.
- To stop them from re-offending.
- To stop them from associating with other offenders.
- To maintain curfews
- To make sure they are going to work
- To make sure they are sleeping at home or agreed locations
- To keep them in, or out of geofences
- To save money on having people out of jail
- To help people reintegrate into society
- To establish whether they are capable of living in society
- To study the behavior of people on parole with a view to helping more people rehabilitate
- To keep the public safe
Not one of those items listed has to do with the GPS itself. It’s about using location based data, it’s about algorithms and systems.
In the process a lot can be learned about criminal fraternities, who they are, where they do business, locating stolen goods. Learning more about patterned behaviors that came help reduce crime levels in future.
Hardware systems don’t need to be the same, but there should be standardized software solutions and collaboration on the use of Big Data business analytic and knowledge based solutions.
Too many people seem to think it starts and ends with a GPS cuff, alarms, sensors and reducing the cost of maintaining prisons. This is powerful crime prevention technology. Situations like the ones in stories like this should only ever be rare exceptions.