The West Australian State Government wants to spend $6 million to track violent sex offenders with GPS tracking devices. Corrective Services Minister Terry Redman announced the plan yesterday, reported the WA News.
“This will enhance the choices of the Supreme Court when making decisions surrounding the conditions that are imposed on dangerous sex offenders,” he said. “The offender wears a GPS tracking device on either the ankle or wrist and his or her movements can be tracked by a monitoring unit installed at the Department of Corrective Services.”
The minister said an alarm would be activated if the offender entered an exclusion zone or tried to tamper with the GPS tracking device. The GPS tracking device can pinpoint a person’s location using 32 satellites operated by the federal government. The device’s active monitoring system transmits data on an individual’s movement as it happens in real-time.
Currently dangerous sex offenders could be subject to drug tests, regularly check-ins with authorities, and providing updated information about where they live and work to authorities.
Mr Redman said one dangerous sex offender in WA was already being monitored but with less advanced technology, where the perimeter of his home was monitored and authorities would be alerted if he breached that boundary.
“Presently we have about 18 dangerous sex offenders out in the community that are managed by our staff,” Mr Redman said.
He suggested the technology could initially be fitted to the 18 offenders who are already subject to the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Act.
The Supreme Court could consider GPS tracking devices for others whose cases come before them in the future.
“It’s not a silver bullet, it doesn’t tell us what they are doing but there is capacity here to put exclusion zones onto a map, therefore, if someone enters into the exclusion zone, then a specific alarm will go off,” Mr Redman said.
He suggested that places such as schools could be exclusion zones.
Critics of the GPS tracking proposal say more convicted criminals could be freed from the state’s overcrowded prisons.
In the U.S. 33 states monitor parolees and individuals on probation who are deemed to be “high risk.” California, which along with Florida leads the nation in using GPS monitoring to fight crime, is currently monitoring 5,138 sex offenders, 2,208 with active GPS, reported the Pittsburg Gazette.
In some states, GPS tracking is replacing paper restraining orders for victims of domestic violence. If the offender enters a programmed “restricted area,” the tracking device simultaneously notifies the police and the person who sought the order of protection.