GPS for Sex Offenders Becoming More Popular

Across the country, lawmakers and law enforcers are facing criticism about the laws concerning sex offenders. While some say the registry databases are so inclusive as to be useless, others think even harsher penalties are needed for those convicted of pedophilia.

In an effort to focus energy and funding on the offenders posing the highest risk to their communities, more states have recently begun using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) devices to track individuals convicted of sex crimes.

In Las Vegas, according to Eyewitness News reports, the “highest risk” offenders must be on either probation or parole if they’ve been convicted of committing a crime against a child, and they must be labeled Tier 3, or likely to reoffend.

Though 20 convicted pedophiles were reportedly tagged with GPS bracelets this week, only seven of them fitted the criteria. The rest of the group includes men who have violated the terms of their parole and even a few volunteers, according to sources.

Law enforcement officials are apparently optimistic about the new tracking system, which alerts parole officers when offenders approach forbidden areas, like school grounds. Reports reflect early confidence in the potential preventative capabilities of the GPS bracelets, which could permit officers to stop crimes before they happen.

A potential downside? Though funds were allocated for these devices, changes in the law may mean that the number of sex offenders who qualify for GPS monitoring next year could be as much as ten times what the budget could handle, according to Eyewitness News.

But even budget shortages aren’t stopping some determined officials. In Washington, Governor Gregoire has dipped into emergency funds to finance GPS trackers for sex offenders, reports the Associated Press.

She expects to use the $400,000 she’s taken during the next nine months, after which time she hopes to receive funding from the state legislature. This week, five Washington sex offenders are reportedly scheduled to receive their GPS bracelets. If adequate money is allotted, sources indicate, Gregoire hopes to have up to 150 offenders tagged by next year.

Like Nevada‘s system, Washington‘s aims to monitor those offenders labeled “Level 3,” or very likely to reoffend.

But the two versions of GPS tracking also have differences. In Washington, the officers tracking the offenders will not be able to view a play-by-play of the offenders’ movements. Rather, the data collected during the day will be available to review every night.

Though reactions to the GPS monitoring of sex offenders are still mixed, the idea is catching on. California, Florida, and Missouri are already using GPS devices to monitor sex offenders in some way.