Thousands of sex offenders will be subject to monitoring for the rest of their lives by the Iowa Department of Corrections, reports the Des Moines Register. A 2005 law subjects many of them to “probation for life.” It is intended to protect Iowa children from sexual predators, who, previously, could walk out of prison after serving their time with few restrictions. Only this year, as the first of those offenders have begun to trickle out of prison, has the cost of the monitoring become a significant concern.At a minimum, the experiment with lifetime monitoring will cost about $168 million over 20 years, a Register analysis found.
“This is going to be an extremely expensive piece of legislation,” warned Phyllis Blood of the Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning. “There will be people who were 15 years old at the time of their offense who will have to be supervised for life.” The $168 million estimate represents the cost in today’s dollars of the only two expenses that can measured – electronic monitors and probation officer salaries. The expenses will be needed for the almost 4,000 people expected to be added because of the special post-prison sentences to the 29,000 people already on state probation rolls. The actual cost – which will also include various types of testing and post-prison counseling – is likely to be far higher, officials said. The more-intensive monitoring was part of the legislature’s response to public outrage over the highly publicized 2005 murder of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage.