Increasingly strict laws are targeting sex offenders by tracking where they are and mapping where they can’t go, USA Today reports. Two recent Florida child murders spurred more states to use Global Positioning System technology to track sex offenders. Cities are expanding the areas where sex offenders aren’t allowed to live. Last month, Florida and Oklahoma passed laws requiring lifetime GPS satellite tracking for certain sex criminals: repeat offenders in Oklahoma, those whose victims were under 12 in Florida. Legislatures in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are considering satellite tracking. Legislation now before Congress would require all repeat sex offenders to wear a GPS ankle bracelet for life.
Some states and counties have used GPS tracking on a case-by-case basis. Peggy Conway, editor of the Journal of Offender Monitoring, estimates that by the end of 2007, 15,000 sex offenders across the nation could be wearing GPS bracelets, up from 3,000 now. GPS tracking is cheap – about $10 a day per person, often paid by the offender. Nationally, about 7,500 people are being monitored through satellite tracking, says iSECUREtrac, an Omaha company that makes a device. They include sex offenders, drug dealers and users, juveniles in truancy programs and parents who didn’t keep up with child support. Rates of repeat crime indicate that electronic monitoring of any type reduces further offenses, says criminologist Marc Renzema of Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University. GPS tracking might have prevented the deaths of Jessica Lunsford, 9, and Sarah Lunde, 13, in Florida, Renzema says. “If their attackers had been registered and tracked, there would be a good chance those crimes could have been prevented.”