More States Using Technology to Keep Track of Sex Offenders

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," June 7, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: What about the predators you can't lock up forever? More and more states are now using high technology to track sex offenders. Jane Skinner is here with that story.

JANE SKINNER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Tracking sex offenders with GPS satellite systems has really taken off as states try to figure out how to deal with the convicts who are released back into the community. In several states, they're followed so closely if they enter certain restricted areas, like schools, an alert goes off. These systems are expensive, as you can imagine. Are they effective?

Tom Wharton is the president and CEO of a company that sells them. It's called iSECUREtrac.

Tom, how well do these work? You can't guarantee a guy wearing one of your bracelets is not going to commit another sex crime, can you?

TOM WHARTON, CEO, ISECURETRAC: No, you cannot guarantee a crime won't be committed. I will tell you that statistics show in a complete caseload of offenders that the recidivism rates are reduced.

SKINNER: Talk about Jerry Inman, this character we are talking about today. Would your system have prevented him from killing Tiffany [Souers] if he had been wearing one?

WHARTON: If he had been wearing our bracelets and he had violated — first of all, remember this guy was at a place where nobody knew where he was. He obviously had previous offenses. If this guy had been tracked at a much earlier time frame, he would have already been caught in a previous crime he committed after he got out of jail. The following two probably would have never been committed. You would have speeded him out of time that somebody would have found this individual, realized he was not compliant to the rules of his release and he would have been put back in prison.

SKINNER: Critics of these GPS system say you can follow where the guy's going, you can't follow what he's doing. If we use the Tiffany Souers example, her apartment was off campus, it wouldn't necessarily have been in one of these restricted areas, an area where an offender would go into and an alert would go off and law enforcement officials would know where they are. That is kind of a shortcoming of the system, is it not?

WHARTON: Well, you know, the system's work extremely well monitoring where an individual is. Usually what happens is these offenders start developing patterns of bad behavior. The trick is to find out and follow the bad behavior and get people back into certain aspects of compliance before they do something wrong.

SKINNER: Tell me exactly kind of how it works for law enforcement. If you've had the active monitoring, which is the more sophisticated system you guys offer, if you have that, does that mean a cop is sitting there 24/7 watching a computer screen and watching where every single one of these guys is going?

WHARTON: They're run by correctional agencies around the country. We have systems in 46 states. This business is growing quite dramatically because more intense supervision is desired and required for offenders that are now coming out as released sex offenders and it's important that these systems are used to really help monitor these offenders in a more intense fashion. There are agencies that run monitoring centers and facilities that watch this and look for violations that occur when an offender does something that is not compliant, as well as on a daily basis watch and look out where the offender has been if, in general, he's not doing something out of the ordinary.

SKINNER: And talk about the expense real quickly. Ten bucks a day on average, it's been reported. Who's paying for that? Taxpayers? Are the offenders, in some cases, paying for it?

WHARTON: In some cases, there are offender-pay programs. Often though, it is a taxpayer-supported program. Now, the thing is if you consider that relative to — as the officer talked about earlier, you know, if you try to do intense supervision at this level by putting one man on each offender that you were trying to monitor, the costs would be astronomical and there would be no way to monitor these offenders. This technology enables our state agencies, our federal agencies, our counties to monitor within a reasonable cost many offenders that, for whatever reason, are going to be put back out on our streets.

SKINNER: Yes, all right. Tom Wharton with a company called iSECUREtrac. Tom, thanks very much.

WHARTON: Thank you.

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