CBSN
crimesider

GPS Sex Offender Tracking System Fails in Several States

(CBS)
GPS Sex Offender Tracking System Fails in Several States
(CBS)

MADISON, Wis. (CBS/AP) A global positioning system that tracks sex offenders failed in several states this week, leaving authorities blind to the real-time movements of thousands of offenders for most of the day Tuesday, Wisconsin prison officials said.

The Wisconsin Corrections Department had local police and probation agents detain about 140 offenders until the system was back up, and their whereabouts during the outage could be confirmed. Wisconsin offenders were never aware they weren't being tracked, spokeswoman Linda Eggert said.

The system's manufacturer, Boulder, Colo.-based BI Incorporated, confirmed that the outage affected 16,000 offenders nationwide, said Eggert.

The outage began around 9 a.m. Tuesday and the system was back up about 11 hours later, she said.

During the GPS failure, the state Corrections Department contacted offenders who were still on extended supervision and told them to report to their probation agents. The offenders were then transported to local jails.

"Due to a system failure beyond our control, we faced a challenging and unprecedented event for our Electronic Monitoring Center," Wisconsin Department of Correction Secretary Rick Raemisch said in a statement.

But 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," he said.

Eggert didn't know how many apprehension requests went out Tuesday or how many of the offenders remained in custody as of Wednesday afternoon.

ALSO ON CRIMESIDER