HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New electronic monitoring devices are being tested by the Department of Public Safety as they search for ways to better track work-furlough inmates.
The department showed Hawaii News Now the new GPS devices that employees have been testing. They're trying to get a feel of how the they work.
"This can send real time information up through a satellite or cell phone towers back to the facility," says department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.
Since the beginning of the year, nine inmates have walked away from work furlough. Two of them are accused of committing a home invasion while they were supposed to be at their jobs. Two more are still on the run.
"I feel sorry for the citizens there, it's unfortunate that there are innocent victims there, unnecessarily brutalized," says Tenari Ma'afala, the head of Hawaii's police union.
Ma'afala says electronic monitoring is a good idea.
A legislative bill introduced this session would have provided $200,000 for electronic monitoring for DPS, but that bill died. The department hopes it can be resurrected and they can move forward.
While they are testing the technology, electronic monitoring for convicts is still at least a year away.
"We have to figure out what type of unit is best, what type of funding that we need, how much funding, staffing. There's a whole lot of things that have to be worked out," says Schwartz.