Michael Watson of Georgia, who was paroled from prison in November, is outfitted with a high-tech Global Positioning Satellite electronic monitor that lets his parole officer track his every move, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Parole Officer Alan Smith can tell when and where Watson enters and exits a grocery store, a gas station, a doctor’s office, or a job site – the few places the parolee is allowed to venture outside of home. If Watson ditches the equipment or goes somewhere he’s not supposed to, he risks going back to prison to finish the remaining year of a three-year sentence for stealing a neighbor’s pickup truck.
The state Board of Pardons and Paroles is conducting a yearlong experiment with the technology with a $492,150 federal grant and $54,683 in state matching funds. Less-sophisticated radio frequency monitoring for more than 800 parolees only lets parole officials know when an offender leaves home. The new system is very labor-intensive. Smith has 17 GPS-monitored parolees on his caseload and must wade through a daily flood of computer data on their whereabouts. The GPS monitoring can help law enforcement officials confirm or rule out potential crime suspects.