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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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County takes $126,000 loss on monitoring system

Spokane County’s Geiger Corrections Center is rid of a faulty home monitoring system, but at a hefty price.

The equipment, purchased for $138,000 in 2002 is being sold back to the manufacturer for pennies on the dollar. The county will recoup just $12,000.

It won’t be sold at auction because manufacturer iSECUREtrac Inc. has a patent on it and claims the technology is proprietary. But estimates are that it would fetch just $2,500 on the open market.

The equipment, used to monitor inmates at home and make sure those who had to take regular home breath tests for alcohol consumption only worked in fits and starts; it was replaced six months ago.

False alarms and other defects even led to the temporary escape of two Geiger home monitoring prisoners, said Ray Mays, who oversees the program.

“They could never set it up where we actually knew what was going on,” said Mays.

A key problem was the number of alert pages the system would issue each day — as many as 300 for the 60 to 70 people being monitored, he said. Pages are supposed to be issued only when people are changing locations, such as going to an approved job or escaping. GPS technology charts the locations of the prisoners.

But most of the pages on the old system were errors, and some showed people traveling dozens of miles in just seconds. Geiger employees had to sort through them all to determine which ones were accurate, said Mays.

“We were getting so many pages that you didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t,” he said.

Video equipment that was supposed to show people taking breath tests didn’t work and might have been circumvented had those being monitored realized the problem.

Purchasing the equipment was a mistake, said Jan Sedor, Geiger office manager.

Geiger Director Leon Long said selling the equipment back to the manufacturer was the only option available because the warranty had expired.

County commissioners approved the sale Tuesday, but said they weren’t aware of all the problems with the system.

“If we bought it and it wasn’t working right, we should go back after the manufacturers,” said Commissioner Phil Harris.

Harris wondered if the situation might have been overlooked during an extended period in which Geiger had no official director. Since Long took over, Geiger operations have improved, he added.

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