Tyran McElrath was already in trouble with the law when he sneaked through a rear window of a Northwest D.C. home last year in the course of a burglary.
Inside, the 18-year-old encountered an 81-year-old woman who was legally blind. He savagely beat her and ransacked her house.
The crime is detailed in court records that also explain how officials quickly caught the youth: He was wearing a GPS tracking device assigned to him by the city’s juvenile justice agency.
Now a report by the District’s office of the inspector general is taking issue with the use of the monitoring devices by the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, in whose custody McElrath was before the crime and his subsequent guilty plea.
Issued this month, the report says the department is “not optimizing its use of GPS devices” and that the ankle bracelets are easy for youths to remove and difficult for staff to monitor remotely.
The 71-page report addresses a number of problems related to youths who abscond from the agency’s custody even for short periods — including the fear they could commit crimes despite being outfitted with the devices.