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Electronic Monitoring of Dangerous Sexual Offenders
By John J. Vollmann, Ph.D
Published: 05/02/2009

Man lookingthroughblinds Corrections.com author, John J. Vollmann, Ph.D., is with the ITT Educational Services, Inc. in Carmel, Indiana

Electronic Monitoring of Dangerous Sex Offenders has not been a new item when reviewing the various controls we have incurred on this type of offender. There are also other regulations concerning these offenders which fall into categories of distance from a playground or school. There have been designations that each offender report his or her address to the local policing agency and if they move, advise the jurisdictions involved in the change.

Violations for many of these infractions can result in incarceration and other sanctions. There were some serious problems in Miami, Florida when a group of registered sex offenders gave their address as living under a particular bridge; the idea here was it was the only place they could live without sanctions by the community. This lifestyle has been stopped by policing agencies due to health and other conditions that left too much for appropriate supervision.

In some jurisdictions, electronic monitoring has been the sanction most used and it involves an anklet with an electronic device attached which is, in most cases, operated with a band that is made up with fibre optics. Cutting this anklet automatically relays a signal indicating “unlawfully at large” and the location of where the cut off was made (if the processor has a GPS alert).

This is the crux of the issue we need to review – that when a registered sex offender, under supervisory electronic conditions, decides they no longer wish to be involved with the supervision and cuts off the anklet, totally limiting our ability to further track this offender. From the experiences of cases that have been examined where the offender takes off – we usually find a trail of crime – after we finally locate the individual. For example, we had a case outside Tampa where an offender, registered with a tracking device, raped and murdered a young girl and fled after removing the device. He was later found in Georgia. Joseph E. Duncan III, who in 2005 fled North Dakota, where he had been registered as a sex offender, committed sex crimes in three states, ending with the murder of a 9-year-old boy in Montana.

The premise we should be looking at is how can we deter or prevent this occurrence from happening and what is the least expensive solution? Currently, electronic supervisory programs cost approximately $15.00 per day per individual. The computerized receivers only report negative incidents – program violations regarding time and distance from regulated receivers – GPS violations suggesting offender is in a “red zone” where he is not permitted by law (playgrounds, schools, parks or other determined area).

In reviewing technology reports and other applications, viz: location of Alzheimer patients, there is steady improvement and excellent electronic monitoring available. However, when we look at a dangerous sexual offender, particularly a pedophile or rapist, who we are mandated to supervise in the community at large we face another challenge. Most of these offenders are under “life” supervision – meaning they will not have eventual freedom from monitoring. How do we successfully monitor this individual and how do we successfully make sure we actually know where the individual is at anytime? This is realistic supervisory methodology. It is public safety able to work at an optimum level, unless the offender decides to cut the anklet off.

There have been serious security developments in large corporations and agencies that have technology implanted in their employee’s bodies to control security levels and avoid security breaches. The programs are geographically set up and the employee has a transmission device surgically applied to their body. This aids in the control, mapping, and location of all personnel. It reduces breaches of security to the company or agency.

If we take this one step further we can certainly advance the technology, program an individual with a surgically implanted GPS transmitter, not just skin deep and be secure in knowing where this individual is at anytime. The very reason we maintain an implant not skin deep is so that it is not easily removed, skin deep is easily removed.

Currently in a number of jurisdictions efforts to track sex offenders draws resistance. “An estimated 100,000 sex offenders are not living where they are registered, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.” [1] The federal law which came out three years ago did not come with funding. This created a problem for states to comply with regarding conflicts with their own laws that really were more stringent than the federal law. In any event, the funding has been the real issue and if the federal government mandates it then they should fund it.

Ethical questions always arise with the liberal side of the coin, in that we are violating the privacy of citizens. The issue is the criminal history is a track record, and when it involves something we need to control in order to protect citizens, then so be it. When this type program prevents another sexual homicide, rape, or pedophile event then we have to acknowledge the benefits. The electronic monitoring through the anklet is definitely an advantage for the “lightweight” sexual criminal. Our concern should be with the “heavyweight” offender who has a significant track record for sexual misconduct and more than likely should not have been on the street in any event.

National and statewide agencies and non-profit groups like “Family Watchdog LLC” from Carmel, Indiana house national identification of registered sexual offenders in their data bases and anyone can look up. Citizens can go on line and find registered individuals in a radius from their home or other location. This free service can be found on state level agencies as well. The data base is very wide; however, is somewhat inaccurate due to absconders, lack of tracking devices, and appears to have additional problems.

    The national sex registry is missing information on 22 percent of state-level sex offenders, the federal investigators found. Driver’s license information, Social Security numbers and basic addresses are regularly absent, potentially leaving neighbors and police alike in the dark. [2]

The separation of federal and state become interesting issues. Some states feel they are being dominated by the federal government some of the latter applications do not compare with the local standards.

The sad thing is the statistics that Family Watchdog LLC have researched and found are too important to miss:
  • 1 of 5 girls will be sexually molested before her 18th birthday.
  • 1 of 6 boys will be sexually molested before his 18th birthday.
  • 1 of 7 children has been propositioned for sex over the internet.
  • 2 0f 3 sexual abuses are perpetrated against teenagers or young children.
  • 90% of sexual assaults are committed against someone the perpetrator knew.
  • The median age for male molestation victims under 18 is 9.8 years old.
  • The median age for female molestation victims under 18 is 9.6 years old.
  • There are 400,000 new victims of sexual assault every year.
  • There are over 550,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S.
  • There are over 100,000 sex offenders that fail to register in the U.S.
  • 76% of serial rapists claim they were molested as children.
  • Over 40% of male juvenile delinquents were molested as children.[3]

It does not take too much to realize we are responding at a reactive level rather than a proactive. We need to become very proactive if we want to reduce the number we are currently witnessing. In a response to the writer of an article entitled Sex Offender Supervision with Satellite Tracking by Paul Brennan[4] it was indicated he was on the correct path and just needed the implant vision to complete the idea?[5]

We should tolerate nothing but total conformity with a group that has exceptionally high recidivism rates. It safeguards our children, our families and law-abiding citizens from becoming victims of released sexual offenders under life sanctions. In the long run it will cost less money and give us the security we need as a modern progressive society.

[1] “Effort to Track Sex Offenders Draws Resistance” by Abby Goodnough and Monica Davey, New York Times, February 8th, 2009
[2] Report: Sex offender registries often inaccurate by Michael Doyle, Idaho Statesman.com, 12/16/2008
[3] http://www.familywatchdog.us/facts.asp - 7/23/2008
[4] Sex Offender Supervision with Satellite Tracking, Paul Brennan, Sheriffs Magazine, January/February 2006
[5] Sheriff Magazine, Letter to the Editor, Vollmann, John J. March 1st, 2006


  1. geo.joili on 03/02/2011:

    there is no bases for sex laws. Last year our nation broke the law to pass laws pertaining too sex. The law came to the floor and was heard and the point of order was pointed out about quorum call and was ignored. These people using sex laws are outlaws.free games

  2. Storac on 05/05/2009:

    Although sex offender legislation and judicial issues have brought about volatile discourse around the country, there has been a general lack of rational discussions on the various aspects of those issues. Vollmann's article is certainly representative of much of this problem. Notwithstanding the grammatical infractions that even a high school student would be ashamed to submit, the article advocates the surgical implantation of an active monitoring device at a much greater invasive level than a normal pacemaker. For a civilian or non-medical professional layman to actively advocate such a position is troubling enough; for a person who has several years of education in the pyschological field to advocate such a position must be challenged with a strong rebuttal. In muddying through this painfully-written claptrap, there are five significant points that I can address here: 1. Vollmann writes about registered sex offenders living under a bridge in Miami, due to their draconian residency restrictions. While this is correct, he calls it a “lifestyle,” as opposed to a government-mandated edict. Finally, he incorrectly states that the “lifestyle” has been stopped by police agencies. In fact, that is not true at all. It is actually being promoted by such agencies. 2. He writes in a partisan style (using the term “liberal side of the coin”) when in fact he knows absolutely nothing about sex offender offenses in general. Playing to the fears of parents and communities, Vollmann states several statistics that have nothing to do with his purported goal, surgically implanting electronic GPS into individuals who have been convicted of sex offenses. 3. He cites several “sources.” Most of the sources are opinions, not studies or statistics based on actual circumstances. Indeed, one of the “sources” he cites is a letter to an editor in another publication. The author of that letter? Himself. 4. His ONLY source, in fact, is a disreputable organization called “Family Watchdog,” which essentially is a data mining website for the various sex offender registries around the country. Family Watchdog has a financial incentive to decrease, not increase, the amount of rational sex offender legislation and community safety. We have several items of proof that discredits Family Watchdog, not the least that their information is more than 24% incorrect. 5. He cites “high recidivism rates,” but doesn’t give statistics or sources for those rates. In fact, we have several reputable sources, notably from the US Department of Justice itself, which show quite the opposite: registered sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rate of EVERY criminal category. In short, this piece is nothing more than a thinly-disguised promotion for Family Watchdog, apparently. In fact, there are several automated posts around the Internet that actually contains the exact non-cited sources that Vollmann uses that contain the Watchdog link. It should be noted that when I tried to contact Vollmann at ITT Educational Services in Carmel, Indiana, where he is apparently an instructor, I never got through to his office. In addition, I talked to personnel in the administration office to notify them of the implied inference of their organization used as part of Vollmann's title. I was told, quite specifically, "NO COMMENT." I will be writing a full rebuttal article that will be referenced by transparent, reputable sources. The rebuttal will be comprehensive to the issue of GPS implants with regard to constitutional issues. In addition, we will also be forwarding the rebuttal to Vollmann, ITT Educational Services, and any appropriate ITT Corporate office that controls the franchise or assignment of their name to the schools.

  3. CFCWashington on 05/04/2009:

    "This lifestyle has been stopped by policing agencies due to health and other conditions that left too much for appropriate supervision." http://www.miamiherald.com/460/story/1029919.html http://www.miamiherald.com/460/story/1029919.html#/photos/v-flash_gallery/gallery/1010357.xml http://www.miamiherald.com/news/columnists/fred-grimm/story/1029950.html Your statement is simply not true.

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