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November 27, 2007

Are we willing to pay the costs of (effective?) technocorrections like GPS tracking?

Today's Los Angeles Times has this fascinating article entitled "Viability of sex-offender law in doubt; The lifetime GPS monitoring ordered by Prop. 83 may be too costly and complex to ever fully implement."  Here is how it starts:

Law enforcement leaders who pushed for a ballot initiative requiring sex offenders in California to be tracked by satellite for life are now saying that the sweeping surveillance program voters endorsed is not feasible and is unlikely to be fully implemented for years, if ever.

Under the measure, approved overwhelmingly a year ago, sex offenders must be strapped with global positioning system devices that can record their whereabouts even after they finish parole and leave the criminal justice system.

Despite their qualms, law enforcement groups contend that the benefits of Proposition 83, popularly known as Jessica's Law, outweigh its problems, and they insist that many of the flaws can be fixed. But in interviews and testimony to a state board, they have cited complications with almost every aspect of the provision requiring lifetime monitoring. The difficulties include the impracticality of tracking sex offenders who no longer must report to parole or probation officers, the lack of any penalty for those who refuse to cooperate with monitoring and the question of whether such widespread tracking is effective in protecting the public.

The biggest issue, however, is that the law does not specify which agency or government should monitor felony sex offenders -- and shoulder hundreds of millions of dollars a year in related costs.

The article is not really surprising, but it effectively previews the terms of many future debates over innovative approaches to sentencing and corrections.  The economics and efficacy and GPS tracking of sex offenders is likely only to be the first of many issues to raise difficult questions as different types of technocorrections start to migrate from science fiction to sentencing fact.

Some related posts on sex offender GPS tracking:

November 27, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink


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As an adult victim of a child sex offender, I suffer every day of my life. No one debates whether or not I have served my sentence or should be afforded a decent life. I say track'em or casterate'em.

Posted by: Annonymous | Dec 29, 2007 3:47:48 PM

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