Hundreds of sex offenders in Missouri are learning they must attach GPS monitoring systems to their ankles for life, even though such a requirement wasn’t part of their sentencing agreement, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The devices send out alerts if an offender lingers near a school or a park. If they try to cut the wide black strap, the waterproof device will tell on them. The GPS unit beeps to prompt a verbal command from state officials, such as to make a payment or report to probation officers immediately. The retroactive requirements are part of a revised state criminal code that went into effect Jan. 1. Offenders guilty of to 13 various sex crimes based on an act committed on or after Aug. 28, 2006, are subject to the added security measures. Previously, the monitoring technology was used for a more limited class of high-risk offenders.
Several sex offenders are suing to challenge the law. One man named only as D.G. argues that the law didn’t exist when he pleaded guilty. He claims he’s no longer “legally subject” to the jurisdiction of state prison authorities and that he shouldn’t be required to pay monthly supervision fees for decades, nor have travel or residency restricted for life. “I don’t think a lawyer can make a straight-faced argument that it’s constitutional,” said attorney Matt Fry, who is suing on behalf of D.G. and has many other plaintiffs in the wings. When they learned of the law, many sex offenders panicked and started calling lawyers. Some are confused: for instance, those no longer on supervision who moved away from Missouri. One 41-year-old sex offender from St. Louis County sees the changes as unlawful, too costly and ineffective. “Lifetime. For the rest of your life. I can’t even comprehend it,” the man said.