Gps Law Stirs Civil Rights Concerns
A new California law allows probation officials in the state to attach global positioning system (GPS) equipment onto parolees without a court order. The GPS systems show offenders’ whereabouts around the clock in real-time. Plans are also underway to merge the GPS-tracking data with crime data.
But the technology’s high cost is likely to restrict the use of GPS bracelets or anklets–the devices cost about $3,100 per year for each parolee on top of the $3,300 cost of conventional parole.
The new law also lets the tracking devices be used on a wider range of parolees. Ignacio Hernandez, a legislative advocate for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, says the new law is too wide and gives probation officials excessive surveillance powers. Hernandez says while he does not object to the devices’ use on repeat sexual offenders, they are not appropriate for parolees charged with lesser crimes.
Brenda Crowding-Johnson, a parole agent in the San Diego area, says most parolees have expressed fear about the device, while others say they support them because the devices could someday protect them from wrongful allegations.
This summer, San Diego County corrections officials conducted a $5.4 million pilot program on 82 sexual offenders that will eventually be used across the state; the Orange County Probation Department has also earmarked $75,000 for a pilot program, says Vicki Mathews, the department’s legislative analyst.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Los Angeles Times (10/17/05) P. B1; Leovy, Jill .