Local & Regional
9:36 am
Mon February 22, 2010

GPS for Sex Offenders

Oklahoma City, OK – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow Oklahoma law enforcement officials to monitor the state's most dangerous sex offenders through electronic monitoring devices.

Senate Bill 2301 would make electronic monitoring devices mandatory for all Level Two and Three sex offenders who have been released from custody, and provides penalties for removal of the device. Level Two and Three sex offenders are considered the state's most dangerous, having been convicted of crimes such as rape in the first degree, kidnapping for sexual exploitation and soliciting sexual conduct with a minor. Sen. Dan Newberry, author of the proposal, said the law would enable law enforcement to monitor the whereabouts of offenders at all times.

"The idea behind adding the GPS monitor is that offenders are currently released from prison into an honor system, and they still may not register as a sex offender," said Newberry, R-Tulsa. "This removes the honor system for those who have proved that they may not be honorable. The current system represents a significant flaw in our laws on sex offenders."

Under the measure, Level Two sex offenders would be required to wear the GPS monitoring device for a period of five years after their release from a correctional facility. Level Three sex offenders would be required to wear a GPS monitoring device for ten years following their release. Newberry cited a Florida State University study showing that GPS monitoring shows a significant difference in the behavior of offenders.

"They found that within a group of paroled or supervised sex offenders, there were 300 attempted murders because they weren't being monitored," Newberry said. "They then looked at a group who were being actively monitored and found only one attempted rape over the same period of time. It's a deterrent, and it helps people feel safer in their communities, but more importantly the offender is aware that people are watching them."

Newberry said the active monitoring system includes inclusion and exclusion zones, and that any offender entering an exclusion zone would set off an alarm resulting in a police response. Senate Bill 2301 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.