By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Department of Corrections uses electronic monitoring to track high-risk sex offenders, as well as other offenders who are finishing out their sentences on supervised release. Thousands of alerts are generated each month, and while most are harmless, strapping a GPS bracelet on an offender's ankle does not guarantee he or she will stay out of trouble.
Just last month, a St. Paul man who was on electronic monitoring while on a prison furlough was charged with sexual assault. Authorities said Curtez Deshawn Graham, 18, cut off his ankle bracelet, returned to the home of his prior burglary victim and raped her. According to the criminal complaint, Graham told police he went to the house to scare the woman and send her a message.
But corrections officials say incidents like this are rare. Spokeswoman Sarah Russell said in the vast majority of cases, the devices are successfully used to verify offenders' locations.
Russell said corrections officials can't talk about the details of Graham's case because he was originally sentenced as a juvenile. But she did say officials have found no evidence that policies were not followed in any recent events or that a policy revision is necessary.
Graham's attorney, Murad Mohammed, was still reviewing the case and had no immediate comment.
Electronic monitoring has increased substantially in Minnesota in recent years. According to data from the Department of Corrections, in fiscal year 2005, there were 4,495 days in which offenders were on GPS monitoring. By fiscal year 2012, that number more than tripled to 15,298 days. The number of days in which offenders were on radio frequency monitoring has also increased, although not as dramatically.
The monitoring of those on supervised release is tracked by an outside company, RS Eden. In the month of April, RS Eden reported it received 22,804 alerts and that many, if not most, were quickly resolved.
Dan Cain, president of RS Eden, said his company follows directions of Department of Corrections supervising field agents when it comes to responding to alerts. For predatory sex offenders, some field agents ask for immediate notification -- and all request notification if the offender is out of range for 30 minutes. For offenders who are less of a risk, some agents request notification if an individual is out of range for up to two hours. If RS Eden cannot reach the field agent, an on-call corrections officer responds and can issue arrest warrants if necessary.
John Schadl, corrections department spokesman, said field agents are expected to take action, up to an arrest, if an offender is not compliant.
While the Department of Corrections provides electronic monitoring for sex offenders, those on supervised release and for offenders in the state's minimum security prisons, counties provide monitoring for those on pretrial release or probation. The data in this story includes state corrections department figures alone.