Nashville police have begun using GPS units typically reserved for the state’s most dangerous sex offenders to track gang members, The Tennessean reports. Police and the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole announced a pilot program that will track 10 convicted gang members to keep them out of “exclusion zones,” areas their respective gangs have been known to frequent. Gang members found in those zones could face more jail time. “We know where you are, every second, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Charles Traughber, probation-parole chairman.
Members of a variety of gangs were chosen because they were deemed likely to continue to cause problems, with previous convictions on charges ranging from assault and weapons violations to selling cocaine. Among the gangs involved are the Gangster Disciples, the Vice Lords, the Bloods and the Crips. The program could invite challenges from defense attorneys. One of them, Tommy Overton, said police branding someone a gang member is troubling. “You’re making a determination that an individual is ‘in a gang’ without having a hearing,” Overton said. “I just think it’s possibly setting a bad precedent as people being singled out without due process, based on potential hearsay or just because somebody might have some sort of symbol on their arm.” On the other hand, Overton said he’d jump at the chance to put a client on a GPS if it meant he’d avoid jail time.