Massachusetts judges may not change probation conditions for convicted sex offenders by requiring them to wear GPS monitoring devices unless the former inmates have violated the terms of their release, says a ruling by the state's highest court reported by the Boston Globe. In a 4-to-3 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court judge who refused to add GPS monitoring and a ban on visits to playgrounds, schools, and libraries to the probation restrictions of a man who spent about 20 years locked up for the abduction and rape of a 7-year-old boy.
“Here, the judge correctly found that there had been no material change in the defendant's circumstances after the terms of probation were initially imposed that would justify the proposed additional probation condition of GPS monitoring and exclusion zones,'' Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the majority. In a dissent, Judge Roderick Ireland said he believes that requiring people on probation to wear the device is “remedial rather than punitive'' and should be allowed. The court's ruling drew criticism from law enforcement officials and victims' rights advocates but praise from defense lawyers.