Following their release from prison, sex offenders are already required by law to register or notify local law enforcement.
In addition, many are required to wear a GPS (Global Positioning System) or an electronic monitoring device which tells law enforcement officials the exact location of the offender 24 hours a day.
The length of time sex offenders are assigned to electronic monitoring varies from state to state. It can be months, years and in some cases a lifetime.
So, why do some states require lifetime GPS monitoring of some sex offenders?
Lifetime GPS monitoring is typically assigned to high-risk offenders and evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In general, people who commit sex offenses against children are often required to wear lifetime GPS monitoring after serving time.
For example, in Oklahoma the law also requires habitual sex offenders to wear GPS monitoring devices for the rest of their lives.
How do GPS monitoring devices work?
People on the tracking system must wear the electronic waterproof ankle bands at all times and stay within a certain distance from their separate GPS transmitters, which can be carried on belts, in purses or set down on desks and tables when at work or home.
Several states, including Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois Oklahoma and California (Prop. 83), have laws which require certain high risk child and violent sex offenders to be monitored through GPS devices for the remainder of their life.
The lifetime electronic monitoring has raised questions not only about whether the penalty is too harsh but if the price tag is too expensive.
Some say offenders should not have to endure lifetime monitoring after "paying their debt" to society and serving their sentences. In addition, ankle monitors are too uncomfortable for the offender to wear daily on a long term basis, such as in a lifetime.
Currently, lawmakers in Iowa are reconsidering the state's law requiring lifetime supervison for sex offenders. A panel recommended the state should revise its law due to scarce resources, focusing on the highest-risk offenders.
The results from Iowa's experiment with lifetime monitoring of sex offenders would cost at the very minimum about $168 million over the next 20 years, the Des Moines Register reports.
Since Iowa's law went into effect in 2006, the number of offenders under 10-year or lifetime monitoring has grown from six in 2007 to 113 by September of last year. By 2019, the number under 10-year supervision is expected to grow to 962, and the number under lifetime monitoring to 954, the panel said.
- Legal Briefing on Iowa's Sex OffenderRegistry Law (Iowa Legislative Services Agency)
- Ohio Sex Offender Monitoring Meets Standards (ONNtv.com)
- States Move on Sex Offender GPS Tracking (Fox News)
- Sex Crimes Overview (provided by Stepniak & Park, P.A.)
- Sex Offender Registry (provided by Richard Lougee)