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December 21, 2010

"An outlet, an outlet ... my kingdom for an outlet for my GPS monitor!"

The silly riff on a famously sad Shakespeare quote was inspired by this ruling today from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.  The case, as the court explains, brings "more fully into view a tension between mandatory GPS monitoring of sex offenders released on probation ... and the practical reality of homelessness -- a circumstance facing an increasing number of former sex offenders." Here are the basics from this local piece about the ruling, which is headlined "SJC: Homeless sex offenders can't be blamed for not charging GPS devices":

Convicted sex offenders should not be punished for violating the terms of their probation if they can't find a power outlet to charge their GPS monitoring devices because they're homeless, the state's highest court said today.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today in a case involving John W. Canadyan Jr., who was released on probation with the requirement, among other things, that he wear a GPS monitoring device.  But after Canadyan's release from prison he was living in a homeless shelter that could not provide residents with access to a reliable electrical outlet necessary for operating the GPS device, the court said.

At a probation revocation hearing, a judge found that Canadyan had violated the conditions of his probation because he had failed to make sufficient efforts to find a job that would have allowed him to find housing -- and get access to a power outlet.

But the SJC reversed that ruling. "In these circumstances, where there was no evidence of wilful noncompliance, a finding of violation of the condition of wearing an operable GPS monitoring device was unwarranted, and is akin to punishing the defendant for being homeless," the court said.

December 21, 2010 at 05:49 PM | Permalink


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