GPS Tracking for Sex Offenders Passes Senate
Legislation to help keep better tabs on registered sex offenders has won final Senate approval and is now headed to Gov. Brad Henry. Sen. Charles Wyrick, D-Fairland, is the author of Senate Bill 631, named “Jessica Lunsford’s Law,” after a Florida girl who was molested and murdered. The suspect in that case is a convicted sex offender. Wyrick said the bill, which was approved unanimously, would require registered sex offenders to wear Global Positioning System (GPS) monitors so that law enforcement can better track their locations.
“Studies have shown that GPS monitoring makes a tremendous difference in recidivism rates. In Florida, offenders released from prison without GPS monitoring re-offend about 33 percent of the time but those who are tracked by GPS had a recidivism rate of only 1.5 percent—and none of the offenses committed by sex offenders on GPS were sex crimes,” Wyrick said. “Clearly, if they know someone is watching them, the public is safer.”
Currently there are 3,000 sex offenders in DOC custody, with many more that have completed their prison sentence and live in communities throughout Oklahoma.
“Our current sex offender registration laws require sex offenders to notify local law enforcement anytime they change addresses but we know that doesn’t always happen. This system will ensure we know where these predators are,” Wyrick said.
SB 631, co-authored by Rep. Terry Ingmire, R- Stillwater, requires that any convicted sex offender placed on probation or parole be required to wear an active GPS monitoring device for the duration of their required registration period. The required registration period is life for habitual sexual offenders and 10 years for other sex offenders. The measure also requires sex offenders to pay for the costs of their own monitoring.
“It is important to point out that this system will save us money in the long-run because reduced recidivism will result in cost savings in prosecution and punishment,” Wyrick said. “But the most important aspect of this bill is that it will enable us to do a better job of protecting our children and others from sexual predators.”
If signed, SB 631 would go into effect immediately and would apply to all sex offenders convicted from that date forward.