Wednesday, November 28, 2012

AUSTRALIA - Prisoners' GPS bracelets a security risk

Original Article


By Andrew Clennell and Alicia Wood

The system of having prisoners released from jail with electronic tracking bracelets is in disarray after 174 devices - including 18 being worn by serious sex offenders - malfunctioned in the first nine months of this year alone.

Attorney-General Greg Smith was forced to reveal the debacle in parliament in answers to questions on notice, saying some of it was due to maintenance issues and in other instances offenders were damaging the electronic devices.

The admission came after accused murderer [name withheld] was freed from his device in May, this one installed by police, after his defence counsel told a court the device had not worked on several occasions.

There are 391 bracelets in place for those who have been sentenced to home detention, or who are on intensive correction orders.

Mr Smith told parliament: "I am advised that in the period 1 January 2012 to 30 September 2012 there were 174 maintenance events. That is, incidents in which monitoring devices required some level of maintenance intervention.."

"Eighteen of the 174 maintenance events that occurred between 1 January 2012 and 30 September 2012 related to monitoring devices that were being worn by serious sex offenders subject to extended supervision orders."

Asked to guarantee there would be no further malfunctions, Mr Smith said: "It is not possible to provide such a guarantee as the electronic ankle bracelet, like any piece of electronic equipment, requires regular maintenance."

News of the failing bracelets came as the state government and Mr Smith confirmed a softening of bail laws yesterday, with the presumption against bail to be removed for all offences including murder, manslaughter, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping.

All presumptions for and against bail will be scrapped in favour of a "risk assessment" that will test whether a person is likely to offend, be a risk to the community, and whether they are likely to front up to court or interfere with witnesses.

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