Tracking Sex Offenders With GPS Isn't A Bulletproof Solution

from the panacea? dept

A 13-year-old girl in Washington was killed last month by a registered sex offender who was being monitored with a GPS tracking device. The tragedy illustrates how such tracking devices -- whether fitted to criminals or children -- aren't magic bullets that offer total protection. In this case, the GPS device helped police corroborate the killer's confession, but it didn't stop the crime. He was being tracked passively, not in real-time, but even if he were, the fact that he was in a field wouldn't have helped anyone notice that he was trying to rape, and then killing, the girl. The devices may prove useful from an evidence standpoint, but that's only after a crime is committed. Perhaps part of the intention is that they'll also act as a deterrent, though sadly that wasn't any help in this case. Whatever the intention, it's important to remember that the devices themselves really don't offer much protection, and shouldn't be viewed as standalone solutions to preventing crime.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:51pm

    Maybe if he had been locked up ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 10:48pm

    Re:

    That's too simple and it would be highly effective. Also, it would take away a favorite vote getter, "protecting" children from sex offenders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Jesse McNelis, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 11:24pm

    Re:

    "Maybe if he had been locked up ..."

    ...queue Minority report.

    The fact that this person was a sex offender and wasn't locked up means that the judge involved in his previous case thought that he was low risk enough. That judge was wrong in this particular case. But hindsight is always 20/20.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 11:29pm

    The problem with this technology is...

    ...that it is only half of a solution.

    Had the GPS bracelet had a bluetooth receiver and the child's clothing had a bluetooth chirper sewn in, then the Sex offender's bracelet could have called the police once the child chirper had been in proximity for two solid minutes. The police could know the offender's name and address, the child's name and address and the location of where they we both together in seconds.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Reality, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 12:04am

    Re: The problem with this technology is...

    So your solution is to tag every child with Bluetooth?

    Good idea, but realistically speaking? Not the best solution. I'm thinking "Helicopter mother" syndrom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 5:52am

    Gesh

    Apparently the girl had a habit of risky behavior and put herself into a situation where she was exposing herself to unacceptable risk. If it wasn't this guy, it would have been someone else, and the end result would have been the same. The GPS-tracking issue is a total non-starter: the real point is to teach and train kids not to be completely utterly oblivious to the world around them and thing nothing will ever happen and that everything exists to serve them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Man from Atlanta, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 6:38am

    The disconnect is instructive

    There's an awful lot of back and forth over the years about the deterrent effect of punishment. The GPS makes punishment a lot more likely; the offender ignored that and the criminal justice community should take note and explore this type of data further. This might help prove once and for all that most criminals are flat out stupid and cannot think past the (very) short term.

    #6 - not sure if you are writing tongue in cheek, but I am a fan of the concept that criminal justice should focus on "guardians," things that reduce propensity toward crime when they are near. A "mom" can be a guardian, as can a streetlight. People also ought to understand the concept too, as a means of staying safer.

    Regardless, it's a horrible crime and wrong to blame the victim. How many of us weren't reckless teenagers?

    I worry that #2 is right and sex crimes are too caught up in election politics and ill-fitting constitutional jurisprudence. More behavioral science and common sense is needed to begin to prevent them more effectively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re: The problem with this technology is...

    No. Just the children who have parents that actually care.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    n00b, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    Panacea?

    Who the hell ever claimed that GPS tracking was a magic bullet that offered total protection?

    Nobody. Nice fucking straw man.

    Does Mike Masnick require that anyone writing for Techdirt make as comically bad arguments as he does?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    castration? maybe coupled with advanced lobotomy?
    low-tech, but bulletproof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Re: Gesh

    "Apparently the girl had a habit of risky behavior and put herself into a situation where she was exposing herself to unacceptable risk"

    So, you are saying that it was her fault.

    Nice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    LK, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: The problem with this technology is...

    With your logic, the next step should be implanting the Bluetooth chip under skin, so the kids would be protected even if they're naked. That's a ridiculous idea!

    From the technological point of view, i think the better thing would be to use some bodyheat, heartbeat, brainwave sensors on the criminal's body, which are connected to this GPS-detector, so that they would react on a physiological pattern indicating that the guy is probably doing something wrong. It's obvious, that if you're raping and killing someone, your pulse would go high and some other detectable body parameters would change. And with technology like polygraphs and lie-detectors it is absolutely possible to create a "killer pattern", that would activate panic button at the police station, when the guy is involved in some suspicious action. The polygraph detectors works with much more subtle body reactions, and they're known to be quite accurate. And even if there would be some false reactions, i think it's better for a known sex-offender to be disturbed by police than for hundreds of kids to be wired with Bluetooth collars and living in a permanent fear to be raped and molested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Here is the most interesting part of this entire subject.

    "Licy's family had reason to be cautious. Hager was raped twice as a teen and Licy's grandmother was kidnapped as a child, Hager said, so the family was extra vigilant with Licy and Hager's young daughters."

    someone should study them to find out why they attract predators.


    As far as Pedifiles go they either need to be killed or locked up for life. I perfer killed... This whole okay you've done your time but we are going to make the rest of your life a living hell by pinning a scarlet letter on you, that just waste my tax money is crap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Eric, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:59am

    Tracking in Probation...

    I work for a probation department. We've looked into these systems before. The only thing they are really for is to see if a sex offender has gone places he shouldn't. They are supposed to stay so far away from schools and playgrounds and places that serve alcohol or strip joints. You can setup zones so that if he goes into one of these areas, then you will be alerted right away.

    The GPS units are pretty much only for that. So that if he is going places he shouldn't be, you can revoke his probation and put him back into jail. They are also very expensive systems and a pain in the butt to keep up w/, that's why we never went to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 9:12am

    Re: Panacea?

    Have to agree. The GPS tracker is a deterrent for some who would rather not have to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Apparently this guy felt he needed the rape more than his freedom. Without the tracker would they have been able to pin the crime on him as easily?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re:

    he was a level 3 sex offender, considered the most likely to reoffend

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    TheStuipdOne, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 9:22am

    Re:

    EXACTLY! Violent sex offenders should be considered to have given up the right to keep their balls. They should be imprisoned, castrated, and be required to spend some amount of time in counseling.

    Someone is going to cry cruel and unusual punishment at that, but I say it fits the crime perfectly, is less cruel than rape, and isn't the unusual for guys to lose their balls in accidents, because of cancer, or from a rather effective kick from the rape victim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re:

    "Violent sex offenders should be considered to have given up the right to keep their balls"


    Ummm, are there any female violent sex offenders ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:48pm

    GPS tracking of criminals

    While I agree overall, I object to the highly inductive reasoning used!
    The quote I object to is: "Whatever the intention, it's important to remember that the devices themselves really don't offer much protection, and shouldn't be viewed as standalone solutions to preventing crime."
    Hello! It failed ONE time, and we are to make a final judgement? Give me a BREAK! Devices such as this MAY OR MAY NOT "offer much protection"; we can't tell from a single case! Certainly they don't offer absolute protection, but implying that we should discard the technology because it failed once is like getting rid of autos because they sometimes are involved in fatalities! OOPS! With global warming maybe getting rid of autos IS a good idea!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Wyn, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Re:

    Forget locking them up. Just kill them. Psychologists know there's no way to cure these people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    DS, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Gesh

    "Her family thinks her free-spirited nature may be the reason she walked through a field popular with transients -- a field she'd been warned to stay away from and where her body was found February 22."

    Her fault? Not exactally, but she DID put herself in danger, a danger that she was warned about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    cindly, May 20th, 2009 @ 11:47pm

    Re: Re: Panacea?

    dear sir ,
    good day .

    this is cindy from oxiang international limited ,in shenzhen china .Our company mainly focus on gps tracker.

    this kind of product is used for keep your car secure, defend your car from thief, and manage your car , also can control fleet.

    i am a manufacturer , our tracker is the head market .last week i have update my tracker , we have new solution now . also the price is very good .

    now it has more excitiong functions than before , like you can talk with the tracker , and also tracker will feedback

    we have Vehicle Tracker ,Motorbike Tracker ,Personal Tracker .

    let me give you a simple introduce of my tracker

    basic function is like this :

    1) GSM 900/1800MHZ or 850/1900 MHZ
    2) Remote Setting
    3) Three authorized number
    4) Alarm report to cell phone
    5) Locate with SMS
    6) Track by time
    7) Inquiry status
    8) Listening in
    9) Fuel control
    10) SOS alarm
    11) Anti-steal alarm
    12) Overspeed alarm
    13) Towing alarm
    14) Parking alarm
    15) Power off alarm
    16) Inquiry SIM card account balance
    17) Forward Msg

    and we have our own software for tracker , with the software you can get more exciting function like
    mileage report , alarm report and gas consumption report .alarm autokinetic and so on
    with my software you can control many cars(1-5000).

    you can set many people to control it , and a person also can control 1-5000 cars at the same time
    every body know tracker is a new prodcuts in the market , with a high end technology . so if you want to the head of the world market , pls catch time to pay more attention to it . also i am glad to help you to achieve it .
    if you intrested in it pls contact with me asap.
    If this is not in your business line,pls kindly forward it to your relative friends,thanks.
    looking forward to your reply
    best wishes to you
    cindy
    Email: sales1@oxiang.com.cn website: www.oxiang.com.cn
    MSN: oxiang1@hotmail.com Yahoo: oxiang01@yahoo.com
    Tel: 0086-755-27043175 Mob: 0086-13427952064

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    cindly li, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:27am

    gps tracker

    we have new 2009 gps trakcer , very different from the old one in 2008 . we have our web system to show your car on map and tracker real-time if you also interested pls tell cindy sales1@oxiang.com.cn

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 4:35pm

    Re:

    Just because someone is castrated doesn't prevent them from possibly harming another child or abruptly stop their sexual desires. It lowers them, yes but doesn't make men suddenly oblivious to sex. The desire can still be there, along with the option to take testosterone to up sexual cravings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    icu (profile), Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 9:59am

    priorities

    After reading all the comments, it appears to me that most are impulsive reactive conclusions. Not much thought in the long view of things. In regards to sex offenders, the issue is sex deviance of the norm which falls under the laws of our communities. In this case of the little girl, it sounds more like a murder than a sex offence. In sex offences the trauma lies in the therapy following the act. In most cases life is adjusted and one can move on. Murder on the other hand is permanent, forever and cannot be unchanged in anyway. This ideology (what can we do so this doesn’t happen again), is fine for the Corporations environment. But, it doesn’t work in the human dynamics and social net works. One cannot control another’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior.
    Some were alone the way this time in history has place more importance on sex offenders than on murder. Examples: drug dealer, gangs, drunk drivers, risky employers, medical field, and manufactures. The focus on the child is beginning to make me sick. My opinion, this allows one to focus on someone else rather than themselves. Personal responsibility is fading and being replaced with coherency and delusional thinking. In hard times the population needs a common fear, what is more sensitive than ones children, and how any of us don’t even think before we say, I’ll kill him if anything happens to my child? Response or reaction?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Lassen County resident, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    convicted murderer

    I am a resident of Lassen County, CA and the state of CA just paroled a serial killer who got off on a technicality here. They claim we will be safe because they put a GPS ankle bracelet on him!!! Do you really think this is going to keep ANYONE safe? Well we don't! This is a very rural community and some places in the county don't even have 24/7 patrol. They have moved a fifth wheel in on state prison grounds for him & have a Correctional Officer supposedly with him at all times.

    We have 2 state prisons & a Federal prison in the county so we entertain prison families & released felons as it is... but now the state wants to use us as a dumping ground for a convicted serial killer and tell us it's safe because he's wearing a GPS?? I think NOT!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 5:13am

    I was gona say that no, gps trackers are not essential in deterrence as they give out limited information on the criminal except for their location. This could play as a positive or a negative attribute but will depend on the situation and/or claim against the offender. For example, that rapist was tracked in the place of the rape & murder. Was it beneficial at the time, no, but down the road when solving a case yea except it didn't help to save that child's life. However, false statements and or claims against this ex serial killer, rapist, or murder such as "oh I seen him at a school playground watching the little kids during recess" or, "he tried to attack me in the park" could be tracked using the gps monitor that this offender will have on him to pinpoint his whereabouts during the times of these reported "crimes".Yes, serial killers also need protection from the general public that is. However, the general public also needs protection from these serial killers and by having gps monitoring are we actually safe?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This