Budget problems force agency to ask court to remove defendants from GPS monitors

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The Federal Preliminary Services Agency, or PSA, which monitors defendants charged with crimes in Washington, has asked judges to remove dozens of defendants from GPS monitoring devices, citing budget issues related to the pandemic.

FOX 5 has uncovered PSA’s request to remove 132 of 484 defendants on GPS devices in a court case in an ongoing murder case from 2018.

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Lawyers for the defendant Daquan Gray asked a judge in March to release him from GPS surveillance while he awaits trial for allegedly shooting and killing his 15-year-old Ballou High School classmate Jaylyn Wheeler. years in 2018.

In the petition, Gray’s attorneys cited a recommendation from PSA and attached a March email to court administrators and prosecutors in which PSA says a pandemic-related increase in the number of defendants on GPS monitoring has “Reached Unsustainable Levels With Appropriate PSA Funding.” The email continues: “… we need to reduce the number of accused on GPS monitoring in order to support the program.”

A list of defendants PSA has asked to remove from electronic surveillance includes people charged with crimes ranging from murder to the crime of child cruelty.

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In many cases, prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for DC have opposed changing the terms of the accused’s release, citing public safety.

Dismissing Gray’s petition, a judge shot PSA saying, “… as to the recommendation of the Pretrial Services Agency … the recommendation is based more on budgetary concerns than any determination that GPS monitoring does. ‘is no longer needed for the protection of the community. “

In a statement to FOX 5 on Wednesday, PSA said it is currently using GPS to monitor 400 defendants, down significantly from the 484 in March. It is not known how many defendants were discharged on the recommendation of PSA.

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The statement continued:

“The cost of electronic surveillance to an individual defendant varies depending on the number of days a defendant is under electronic surveillance. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more defendants remaining on interim surveillance for extended periods, imposing an additional financial burden. on PSA. As a federal agency, PSA is subject to the anti-deficiency law and cannot make or authorize expenditure for funds greater than the amount available in the appropriations for the year. PSA has not received any additional credit due to the COVID-19 pandemic Given the current financial conditions, PSA has worked diligently with the courts, the USAO and the defense bar to maximize the use of limited resources available to the agency to carry out the mandated mission of promoting pre-trial justice and improving community safety.

To be clear, while tax concerns may have been a factor in PSA’s recent review of cases with defendants on electronic surveillance, budget was not the only consideration that prompted PSA’s recommendation. Public safety is the agency’s priority and budgetary constraints do not outweigh our responsibility for public safety. Any PSA referral to court is guided by a robust and systematic assessment of a defendant’s risk and a review of their supervisory compliance history. “


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