Hundreds of convicted sex offenders must wear a two-piece electronic tracking device for the rest of their lives under a new Wisconsin law, says USA Today. Ankle bracelets and a pager-sized unit, often attached to a belt, will use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. If they enter restricted areas, such as schools, officials will be alerted. GPS programs will track 285 offenders the first year, beginning July 2007, and up to 400 by the second year. Last month, Wisconsin joined a rapidly rising number of states using GPS to monitor convicted sex offenders. At least 23 states are doing so. “In the last several months, it’s been exponential growth,” says Steve Chapin, president of Pro-Tech, a Florida-based firm that provides GPS services to 27 statewide agencies. His business has doubled in the past three months.
In Washington, the House and Senate have each passed sex offender bills this year that approve funding for GPS tracking. GPS devices have become smaller and more accurate, often pinpointing a person’s position within 30 feet. They are more precise than older devices that use radio frequencies and detect when the wearer leaves a certain area. GPS units can be programmed to have “exclusion zones” where offenders are not allowed and “inclusion zones” where they should be. States spend $5 to $10 daily to track each sex offender.