Should all high-risk offenders wear monitors?

An ankle bracelet may be your required fashion choice in 2012 if you are either a repeat substance abuser or high-risk sex offender.

An ankle bracelet may be your required fashion choice in 2012 if you are either a repeat substance abuser or high-risk sex offender.

The bracelet designed for the former detects levels of drugs or alcohol in the user’s system and alarms law enforcers, bringing them to the offender’s location by GPS (global positioning device). The latter device is primarily a GPS monitoring device unless the wearer is a dual offender.

Sexual offenders in some communities are required to live communally in one apartment complex where their daily behaviour is constantly monitored. Others, depending on the court’s evaluation, are required to wear the ankle bracelet monitored by GPS which provides police a minute by minute tracking of activities. Restrictions can be programmed limiting the wearer from any proximity to playgrounds, swimming pools or other community locations where children or families may congregate.

The question is whether all high-risk offenders should wear monitoring anklets? Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak wants all 14,000 convicted sex offenders to wear the bracelets. Since they can not be monitored individually, critics note the offender’s location near an offense could only be detected after the fact and not prevent the incident from a sexual offender. Proponents counter with the fact that each person would have her/his bracelet programmed for specific locations and breaching that would alarm monitors who would send law enforcers to locate the offender, which, given its software specifics, is easily.

Maintenance is a factor with the rechargeable device. If the battery dies, the device has to be replaced. It can not be submersed in water, so the wearer can’t take a bath, but showers do not affect its function. Daily, the user must transmit the bracelet’s data via a phone modem to the monitoring agency. If any variance to the restrictions is detected, law enforcers arrive, ditto if the uploading is missed.

Law enforcers admit the device is not foolproof but it does move monitoring to a much higher level than has been previously available.

Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz are columnists from Rural Crime Watch.

Williams Lake Tribune

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