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November 10, 2006

Is GPS tracking a better way?

I spoke at a sentencing seminar this morning, and the terrific speaker after me reviewed all the reasons why residency restrictions for sex offenders likely endanger, rather than enhance, public safety.  (Astute readers will recall that Iowa's prosecutors, who have the most experience with these laws, came to this conclusion long ago as documented here.)   Beyond the public safety consequences, the California experience with residency restrictions in Proposition 83 (details here and here) spotlights that these laws always engender copious litigation.

But another facet of Proposition 83 may not be quite as bad, though it is sure to also stir up some litigation: GPS tracking of certain offenders.  Thanks to Crime & Consequences, I saw this interesting article at Wired News about GPS monitoring, titled "Attack of the Perv Trackers."  Here are parts of a fine piece:

Just a few years ago, satellite tracking of convicts was a newfangled alternative to house arrest.  Now, the number of American ex-offenders tracked through GPS-equipped ankle bracelets will likely triple to more than 30,000, thanks to the passage of a California ballot measure. California's Proposition 83, which easily passed Tuesday by a margin of 70 percent to 30 percent, requires many convicted sex offenders to be monitored by GPS for life....

At least 11 other states have recently considered GPS tracking legislation, with some inspired by the 2005 murder of a Florida girl, allegedly by a registered sex offender.... But there's a hitch: The ankle bracelets -- usually accompanied by digital-pager-size transmitters -- are hardly criminal-proof.  Convicts can easily cut the bracelets off and run away as their probation officer gets an alarm and tries to contact the local police. For health reasons, the bracelets aren't designed to be permanent.

"GPS will not prevent a crime," said Steve Chapin, CEO of Pro Tech Monitoring, a manufacturer of GPS tracking devices. "It's a crime deterrent. It has proven to be a good tool, but you can't oversell it -- there's no physical barrier that it creates that can prevent a crime." Chapin said his Florida-based company tracks about 10,000 people, and he thinks other companies track a few thousand more. Offenders wear an ankle bracelet -- Chapin said it can be hidden under a sock -- and keep the transmitter nearby. 

There are an estimated 63,000 to 90,000 sex offenders convicted of felonies and misdemeanors in California. According to Chapin, it's possible that about 20,000 of them will need GPS monitoring under the new law.  Chapin expects the state to adopt "active" monitoring, which tracks offenders in real time and sends out alerts if they go somewhere they're not supposed to, such as a school. The alternative is "passive" tracking, which produces reports about where offenders have been, not where they are right now.  Currently, Pro Tech charges $6 to $8 a day for active monitoring, and $4 to $5 a day for passive monitoring, equipment included. At that rate, California can expect to fork out between $80,000 and $160,000 per day to watch its sex offenders.... 

GPS tracking technology allows users to create "geofences" to mark forbidden "hot zones."  The monitoring systems can even be programmed so that alarms only go off if an offender spends a certain amount of time in an outlawed area instead of, say, simply driving through it at high speed on the way to somewhere else.

GPS tracking has its critics. The American Civil Liberties Union has been skeptical, although at times intrigued by an alternative to incarceration.... [A] new study of more than 75,000 Florida convicts found that both GPS monitoring and old-fashioned, house-arrest electronic monitoring (the kind Martha Stewart endured) made convicts more likely to toe the line.  "Our conclusion is that it does help protect public safety, that these offenders are less likely to get in trouble," said study co-author Kathy Padgett of Florida State University.

November 10, 2006 at 03:16 PM | Permalink


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Sentencing Law Policy links to an AP article and has posts on the latest in GPS tracking technology. Is GPS tracking a better way? More on the pros and cons of GPS tracking [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 17, 2007 7:46:43 AM


A rather obvious question. How long would it be before someone figures out how to get another GPS device and use it for a substitute? Then they just put tinfoil over the real one, go commit a crime, and they have an alibi! The substitute tracking device proves they were home or wherever. Didn't Martha Stewart say it took her about 10 minutes to Google how to beat it?

It's like computers. The only sure way to prevent getting hacked online is to unplug them.

Posted by: George | Nov 11, 2006 12:13:33 AM

Why not inject a microchip the same way they do dangerous canines and give all sex affenders chemical castrations while their at it.

Posted by: | Nov 13, 2006 11:23:08 PM

Let's quite playing around. Anyone who commits any crime should be shot on sight. What does a bullet cost, about 50 cents? It's high time we stop letting that "goddamn piece of paper" get in the way of sound economics.

Posted by: George | Nov 14, 2006 2:38:50 PM

In my point of view the GPS tracking devices will enable the authorities to prevent crimes easier.

Posted by: Cara Fletcher | Mar 24, 2007 1:01:50 PM

In the movie Running Man, they wore them around their necks.

Those devices also had an explosive charge to prevent tampering as well as to discourage escape attempts, and there was a local hotzone defined by a fence of microwave relays.

An implanted chip would not be large enough to have the kind of transmitting power needed to perform like the units in use right now. But, a transmitter could receive a unique ID from an implanted chip along with GPS signals and send all of that. So attempting to fool the system by switching transmitters will not work if you are ignorant.

There is a concern that these tracking systems can address, that there is a problem with sex offenders who are required to report to their community corrections officer where they are living, but because they get kicked out of every neighborhood, these offenders wind up homeless and are at large on the streets locations unknown!

A radical idea here: how about putting an ID chip in everyone? Build-in some basic bio-monitoring to determine if a person is being subject to unusual stress levels such as if they were being raped or robbed. Then, all identified criminals would be required to have an implanted receiver that if it comes into close proximity to a victims implant while said victim was broadcasting a distress signal, would deliver a stun charge to the criminals nervous system and render them incapable of doing anything. This might solve the problem, that current tracking devices are unable to prevent crime.

Posted by: Phil | Mar 31, 2007 2:33:21 AM

I'm not so thrilled with the idea of everyone having a chip in them, personally I don't want one at all, but the idea of puting perminant chips in offenders isn't too sound either. People will go to great lengths to keep themselves unidenifiable like cutting thier own fingerprints off; so what would keep them from cutting the chip our of themselves. And what about the sex crimes that are no more than indecent exposure? What would those people do? Then the chemical castration idea wouldn't wash either because sex crimes are crimes of anger and control, the sex is just a tool. Now if that tool was taken away these people would turn to other forms of violence to "get their fix", most likely torture and/or murder. And shooting anyone who has committed a crime; How about speeding, isn't that a crime? Yes, and a dangerous crime; but who does't go at least five miles an hour over the speed limit?
I don't think there's an easy answer to solve the world's problems, heck, I don't think there's an easy answer to our own country's problems. But maybe it's a combination of practices and ideas already out there and we just haven't tried all the combinations yet.

Posted by: Jesse Kechum | Apr 2, 2007 6:30:34 PM

Discrimination allows superiority where truth is hidden and corruption tends to creep in.

This is the human equation.

People change day to day. Things change, steal rusts while conceited blows away, but the energy that makes us who we are moves through us as we experience our lives.

Governments, Advocates, Churches, and Media put pressure on sex offenders who are struggling daily to make a way for their families.

These groups are one in the same who have created the realm of secrecy and oppress for gain.

To be ashamed of being a flawed human who makes mistakes, is the responsibility of the person/group/s allowing laws of decimation which is abuse.

Inflicting pain on any person who has been betrayed by that societies recklessness to hide the truth because of its own shame is the ultimate in irresponsibility.

By continuing to advocate lifetime sentences, separation, eradication, concerning sexual offenses is recognition of the breakdown of group/s and any system/s which supports this human rights abuse .

There can be no justice where the responsible party is the society which refuses acceptance of its error.

Thinking that labeling anyone concerning life and death decisions with regard to sexual offenses has no validity.

The stigma/demonization/and continuance of the myth is perpetrated by the group/s and any system/s that makes people suffer for a belief that has only for centuries hidden its own truth.

Please take time to write those who can change our laws.

What ever we do we do to ourselves as money and power leads us by the ring in our nose rendering us unable to hear or see beyond the sound of our own greed.

Mr. & Mrs. Keith Richard Radford Jr.

Posted by: Keith Richard Radford Jr | Jul 31, 2007 4:47:23 PM

GPS tracking is already done by law-enforcement, usually by placing the unit on the car of the victim, er, sorry, "perp", and physically monitoring his place of residence. Unfortunaltely, this quickly degenerates into "gangstalking" and low-level but very real and extremely painful torture. This is because of the "punishment" model of law-enforcement, as opposed to the rehabilition model. High risk offenders are treated as if they are in prison, except that their prison cell, in order to save the city money, is their apartment or home. Their living place is then covertly rigged and attacked using intelligence methods refined by the CIA and SOA (School of the Americas). No distinction is usually made between someone on deferred adjudication vs. someone on felony parole. This covert punishment is actually torture. It is covert, and the victim often does not understand why they are being torured, since the punishment covertly executed, and is metted out arbitrarily, just as might be done by a corrupt prison gaurd in a jail. See http://www.geocities.com/report91120001 for more information. This type of "intensive surveillance" is assigned by parole officers to either "high-risk" offenders, or anyone else they don't like. Studies have show that while politicians are mostly white, the public bureacracy is mostly composed of minorities. The torture comes into play when you have a situation where those doing the monitoring ( i.e. covert community policing groups, such as management and maintenance crews in apartment complexes ) are of a different race / culture than the offender. This usually means that a member of a minority group is doing the physical monitoring of the parolee in the community, with an attutude that everyone else in the world needs an ass-kicking.

Posted by: anonymous | Aug 1, 2008 6:57:39 PM

It is because of ignorant comments like some of the above Posted by:

George | Nov 11, 2006 12:13:33 AM

Why not inject a microchip the same way they do dangerous canines and give all sex affenders chemical castrations while their at it.
Laws need to be changed so only SEX OFFEnders are labeled sex offenders.

Come on. Help me figure out how to get the real information out!

Posted by: Sandra | Sep 7, 2008 12:28:38 PM

Retarded prick, look what, most so called sex offender are not sex offenders at all, but rather teens having had sex with each other. Such a natural and normal thing is legal in most countries in the world. Only retarded americans go to such great lengths to stop them. Actually you deserve to be killed for havinf such ideas.

Posted by: xb | Dec 12, 2008 12:01:42 AM

i think that there needs to be a differance between people who commit crimes like rape and child abuse and molester offences from those who have sex with a willing partner who is a minor under the law or who pee in public i am 16 and amansepated and i wanted to have sex with my 21 year old boyfriend i love him with all my heart and he loves me but people dont see that and they dont care! people cant help who they fall in love with just like gay couples they are riddiculed and be littled because its un nateral in the society we live in today well its wrong and my fiance never should have gone to jail and had to register as a sex offender for being in love all you people are blinded by your own problems trying to point fingers when you are to blame if you would pay more attention to your child these so called crimes wouldnt happen look in the mirror i know there has been some thing you have done that is illegal but you are all stuck in a blind society where all children are innocent well yes in a way thats true but if the person is of sound mind and heart and is responsiable than why punish them you think you know whats best for us so called minors but you dont! we arent that inoccent people come on open your eyes we want to have sex we drink and take drugs so why is it rape if we want it duh!!!!!

Posted by: jess | Aug 28, 2009 2:10:41 PM

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Posted by: חלקי חילוף לרכב בתל אביב | Jan 3, 2011 8:27:04 AM

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Posted by: חלקי חילוף לרכב בתל אביב | Jan 3, 2011 8:34:01 AM

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