SANTA ANA – Orange County officials will make a controversial step by becoming the first in the state to use global positioning satellites to track released sex offenders.
Starting next year, officials will require some sex offenders on parole and probation to wear wristbands linked to the satellite tracking system.
Currently, there are about 400 convicted sex offenders on probation or parole in the county. Those whom the Orange County Probation Department considers the most likely to commit more sex crimes will end up wearing wristbands equipped with electronic transmitters, said Bill Daniel, director of special operations for the department.
If one of those sex offenders nears a school or other location off-limits to them under state law, probation officers could swoop in and detain him, he said.
But some critics say it seems like a violation to track people — even those convicted of sexual molestation— wherever they go.
Officials at the Los Angeles County Probation Department said they have problems with the idea and have no plans to implement a similar program.
“I’m not a fan of that,” said David Davies, chief of adult field services for the department. “I’m a firm believer if you need to put somebody on GPS, that person doesn’t need to be on the street. I’d really question why you’d use something like that.”
Orange County also recently started giving periodic lie detector tests to released offenders, another controversial issue.
Authorities said both the tracking and lie detector tests represent powerful deterrents for offenders and could also tip off police to crimes the probationers might commit.
Only about a dozen or so counties nationwide use the GPS system to track sex offenders. Authorities in Texas came under attack earlier this year when it was learned that GPS monitoring had failed to prevent the alleged sexual molestation of a 6-year-old boy by a parolee wearing a tracking bracelet.