GPS to Track Sooner Sex Offenders

5-17-05 - Convicted sex offenders will have to wear a Global Positioning device under a bill signed into law Tuesday by Governor Henry. Supporters of the measure say it allows law enforcement to monitor the location of sex offenders after their release from prison.

The new law requires convicted habitual and aggravated sex offenders to wear the electronic G-P-S monitoring device for the rest of their lives after their release from prison.

The bill, co-authored in the House by Rep. Terry Ingmire, R-Stillwater, is named for a little girl in Florida who was sexually assaulted and murdered. The suspect in that case is a convicted sex offender and had been wearing a global positioning system (GPS) monitor. Unfortunately a judge had ordered it removed a few days before the homicide.

“By requiring convicted sex offenders to wear GPS monitors, we can track them at any time, any place. I believe this will help us do a better job of protecting our citizens from society’s most depraved predators,” Wyrick said.

Wyrick pointed to research showing inmates monitored by GPS had lower recidivism rates than inmates who were not monitored. A Florida report showed offenders released from prison without GPS monitoring re-offended about 33 percent of the time compared to just 1.5 percent for those tracked by GPS. None of the new offenses committed by sex offenders on GPS were sex crimes.

"This shows that if they know they’re being watched, the public is safer,” Wyrick said.

Currently, there are approximately 3,000 sex offenders in the custody of the Department of Corrections. When they are released, their names and addresses are listed on the state’s sex offender registry. However, not all offenders comply with the sex offender registry law.

“Those individuals are supposed to notify law enforcement any time they move to a new address but right now there are more than 1,500 who are ignoring the law. With GPS we’ll be able to do a better job of verifying where these sex offenders are really living,” Wyrick said.

Under SB 631, convicted sex offenders placed on probation or parole will now be required to wear an active GPS monitoring device for the duration of their required registration period. The required registration period is life for habitual sexual offenders and 10 years for other sex offenders. The measure also requires sex offenders to pay for the cost of their own monitoring.

The new law applies to all sex offenders convicted from May 17, 2005 forward.