Tag Archives: punishment

An Electronic Leash for Sex Offenders

[Gutter Ball Master's mini bio has been added to the "Who are my guest bloggers?" page. – Funky]

I recently heard that GPS devices have been proposed for use on sex offenders where I live in the Baltimore, MD area.

Tracking Criminals From The Sky

"WASHINGTON — Some call it 'Big Brother,' but this year, Maryland lawmakers agreed to consider global positioning tracking of criminals including sex offenders — something they are doing in 32 states and Washington, D.C."

In other states:

"Beginning June 1, San Bernardino County, Calif., will start monitoring its adult sexual offenders using traditional tracking devices along with global positioning system (GPS) technology provided and serviced by Sentinel Offender Services. Offenders are expected to pay up to $15 per day for the monitoring, so that state taxpayers are not covering any of the program's funding. Additional money from the offender fees will support the hiring of additional probation officers in the county. The state's Riverside County is also considering implementation of the devices for high-risk felony offenders in order to prevent them from coming within five miles of a school or place where children gather. Probation officers will use GPS-equipped cell phones and a secure, Internet-based system to track an offender at all times, and an alarm will alert officers if an offender breaks the bracelet or ventures more than 30 feet from the device."

"A new Oklahoma law also requires habitual sex offenders to wear GPS monitoring devices for the rest of their lives. Ohio's budget funds lifetime GPS monitoring only for people classified as sexually violent predators."

"Many other states use GPS monitoring for selected people on probation or parole but the monitoring ends with the sentence."

The benefits of the GPS devices are obvious:

[WBAL-TV 11 News Deborah Weiner]: 'How does being tracked by a satellite effect your decisions today?'

'James': 'For me, it keeps my mind on top peak — make sure I'm doing the right thing.'

"'James', convicted of molesting an 11-year-old girl, is now working."

"After a registered sex offender was charged in March with killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, Florida legislators quickly mandated tougher prison sentences for people who commit sex offenses against children and required lifetime GPS monitoring after serving time."

"Missouri Sen. Matt Bartle liked the Florida legislation so much that he copied and expanded it to include repeat sex offenders who commit crimes such as exposing oneself to a child that would otherwise be punishable by seven years or less of imprisonment."

On the other hand:

"But some civil-rights experts and defense attorneys contend such requirements are too onerous and attach the stigma and inconvenience of electronic anklets and GPS transmitters to those who may never commit a crime again."

The GPS technology is not foolproof, however.

"Authorities in Boise, Idaho, say paroled child-sex offender William Lightner cut off a GPS bracelet and fled on July 23. Near Tallahassee, Fla., Kenneth Lamberton was wearing a GPS monitor awaiting a child-molestation trial when authorities allege he tried to force one girl into a sex act in March and another to expose herself in April."

"Both men had been assigned passive GPS devices that send information once a day. Florida is switching to the active GPS devices, which instantly alert authorities to any violations."

Kansas City civil-rights attorney Arthur Benson already is challenging Missouri's lifetime sexual offender registry.

"'While these laws are often couched in terms of protecting the public against repeat offenses, at heart they are vengeful, punishing acts,' Benson said."

So, should the tracking of these criminals be done this way? Should they be tracked at all? What former sex offender is not "high-risk"?

(Please keep any discussion civil: this can be a touchy issue.)