Study Finds 16.6% of Sex Offenders Evade GPS Tracking

According to a study conducted by Utica College, 16.6% of the 90,000 registered sex offenders being monitored by GPS tracking devices may be skirting the system. Some of the ways to circumvent the court-ordered tracking system is by moving residences frequently, using various social security numbers, using aliases or varying the spelling of their names. Using any or a combination of any of these tactics makes it more difficult for law enforcement officers to identify and track the offenders.

The next part of the study, Donald Rebovich, a Utica College professor and executive director of the college’s Center for Identity Management and Information Protection said, is to confirm if similar identity manipulation or location evasion is happening in other states, too.

“I’m not saying the sex offender tracking system doesn’t work, but this study is just to point out that perhaps more needs to be done if we want to make it a system that works 100 percent,” Rebovich said. “It sort of eats at the confidence that the public has in the whole sex offender tracking system, and I hope the results of this study help solve that problem.”

In a real-life situation, however, according to Bob Allen, a KDKA reporter in Pittsburgh, who wanted to test the system, when he “tested the system by putting on a bracelet and driving to the Woodland Hills High School parking lot in Churchill, the system tracked him the whole way down the Parkway East to the school. Within 30 seconds after driving on school property, the pager went off warning him he was in an exclusion zone. The GPS system worked.”

The Center for Identity Management and Information Protection worked with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell criminologists and ID Analytics to conduct the study. The U.S. Department of Justice funded the joint effort by providing a $670,000 grant.

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