GPS technology not ready for tracking sex offenders

Researchers at Sam Houston State University concluded in a recent study that GPS monitoring should not be used as a control mechanism for tracking sex offenders but only as a tool. Study used sex offenders in Maricopa County, AZ over a two-year period. Study says that the GPS technology has many limitations and can not be depended upon as a control mechanism.

The study found that a significant number of equipment-related alerts were triggered by a loss of a satellite signal, rather than offender violations. Those alerts resulted in a significant increase in the workload of probation officers. In addition to wasting agency’s resources with these false alerts, a secondary impact is the possibility of complacency by probation officers because of these non-violation alerts, which may result in a failure to act and liability for offender actions, the report concluded.

It is estimated that 70% of alerts are false positives and mostly caused by technological limitations.

The study was published in the Journal of Criminal Justice.

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