While GPS units can help monitor offenders, bail agents and recovery agents must use them in conjunction with other supervision methods
It’s 10:30 at night and you are making a home visit. You find out your offender has moved. After a few phone calls and speaking with some of the offender’s family members, you discover he has decided to move three counties away! You direct the offender to return home immediately and follow up with him the next day.
Just about every bail agent comes across this scenario at some point during their career. We ask ourselves, “How do we go about addressing this violation?” One solution is to place a GPS unit on the offender.
Bail Agents and Recovery Agents can place a GPS unit on an offender as an intermediate sanction to help curb problematic behavior, or use a GPS unit in pre-trial settings instead of keeping an offender in jail.
This provides Bail Agents and Recovery Agents with real-time information on an offender’s current whereabouts and information on the offender’s past whereabouts through the GPS program.
Bail Agents and Recovery Agents can set up inclusion zones the offender is required to be in during a certain time of the day or night and, if the offender leaves this area, the agent is notified the offender is out of place of assignment.
Bail Agents and Recovery Agents can also set up exclusionary zones in which the offender has been instructed to stay out of at all times. If the offender enters this area, the officer will be notified. The reason for the exclusionary zone will dictate the officer’s response.
GPS units have built-in security features that provide notification if the offender has tampered with, attempted to remove or removed the device. The most common way for an offender to remove the unit is simply by cutting the strap.
GPS systems also offer a point-tracking feature that allows probation and parole officers to set up a geo-fence around a certain area and then put in date and time ranges to see if any offenders entered the area. This is a much quicker method of searching an area to determine if an offender has been there instead of looking at GPS points for each offender, which could cover several days, weeks or months.
GPS is a great tool that has advanced over the years; however, it is just that, a tool.
Bail Agents and Recovery Agents may become too reliant on a GPS unit and assume the offender is no longer engaging in criminal behavior because they are outfitted with a GPS device, but this is not the case. Offenders constantly come up with ways to defeat GPS units or engage in criminal behavior by manipulating their whereabouts.
Officers cannot just sit back and check the offender’s GPS points and assume the offender is in compliance. Probation and parole officers must use GPS units in conjunction with other supervision methods.