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Sex offender monitoring system crashes

Associated Press / October 7, 2010

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MADISON, Wis. — An electronic monitoring system tracking sex offenders, parolees and others shut down, leaving authorities in 49 states blind to offenders’ movements for about 12 hours, authorities said yesterday.

A system operated by Boulder, Colo.-based BI Incorporated unexpectedly hit its data storage capacity Tuesday, and that blocked notifications to prisons and other corrections agencies for about 16,000 people being tracked, BI spokesman Jock Waldo said.

Tracking devices continued to record movement, but corrections agencies could not immediately view the data. The company has substantially increased its data storage capacity and has not heard of any safety issues, Waldo said. “In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this,’’ Waldo said.

In Wisconsin, prison officials had local police and probation agents detain about 140 sex offenders at local jails until the GPS tracking was back up and their whereabouts during the outage could be confirmed.

The offenders were never aware they were not being tracked, Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert said. The shutdown affected about 300 people in Wisconsin, most of them sex offenders.

She said the agency examined all their offenders’ GPS movements and was certain the shutdown did not drive anyone to commit a new crime.

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