GPS Tracking for Sex Offenders
In 2006, Californians voted to ban registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park which also means that many residential neighborhoods would also be off limits. A number of other states have similar laws. Requiring sex offenders to register their addresses does not work in many cases even though it is a felony to not do so. About 100,000 registered sex offenders in the United States have failed to register their locations, so how can they be effectively monitored?
GPS tracking uses the Global Positioning System to precisely determine the location of an individual, property or valuables. In the case of monitoring a sex offender, an ankle bracelet or belt-mounted holster is worn along with a small transmitter. Law enforcement is able to know the whereabouts of the individual at any time.
A study conducted in Florida of more than 75,000 convicts found that they were more likely to behave when they knew they were being electronically monitored. While it cannot physically prevent a crime, many consider real time GPS tracking to be a very important tool to control sexual offenders.
In New Jersey, GPS tracking alerted authorities that a sex offender was residing at an address other than the one registered to him. Upon investigation, they found that he was staying at his girlfriend’s home and there was also a baby in the house. The sex offender was charged with violating Megan’s Law. In another case, an offender was found to be in the area of his former victim’s residence, thereby violating his condition of probation to have no contact with prior victims. He was returned to custody after GPS tracking revealed the situation.
Functioning the same wat as vehicle tracking units, GPS tracking devices collect and store satellite location data every 10-15 seconds (depending on the equipment) and transmits it to the monitoring computer every few minutes. Law enforcement is able to view time-stamped points on an electronic map and pinpoint the offender’s location and movements.
Tracking systems are considered by many to be essential tools in the monitoring of sex offenders. Some data suggests that the recidivism rate for offenders on electronic monitoring is lower than for those not being monitored. Even if that is not achieved, GPS tracking provides crucial data to be able to convict if a new sex crime is committed. While not perfect, it provides a new level of protection to potential victims of sex crimes.