GPS Monitoring Program for Dangerous Sex Offenders

An old public service advertisement used to ask, “Do you know where your children are?” A better question may be, “Do you know where local sex offenders are?”

Thanks to a new monitoring program forĀ sex offenders, that question will be answered and tabs will be kept on paroled sex offenders who have been deemed to be dangerous. Texas Governor Rick Perry, in conjunction with state corrections officials, will be using a $1.7 million federal criminal justice grant to put 600 sex-offender parolees on GPS monitoring.

Proponents of the program claim that keeping track of the daily movements of those determined to be at high risk for re-offending will keep the public safer. Others question the timing, and are concerned that revoking liberties that parolees have already earned is unfair.

Determining “High-Risk” Offenders

Bryan Collier, deputy director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, says it’s just a matter of money – they finally have the necessary resources to better monitor certain “high-risk” parolees. While it is a common complaint that state-contracted therapists are too quick to label someone high-risk, parole officials argue that these therapists are experienced and that the tests they use are accurate predictors.

Those in charge of protecting the public safety are confronted with society’s fear of sex offenders, and the statistics that show how likely it is for these types of criminals to re-offend. Even so, the new GPS program raises questions as to both fairness and whether or not it’s a smart use of resources. For example, a 63-year-old Dallas-area parolee was dropped from a similar monitoring program several years ago because officials found that he posed no threat to re-offend. He suffers from diabetes and congestive heart failure and is essentially homebound but still qualifies as “high-risk” under the GPS monitoring program.