Target 11 Investigates New Tools To Track Sex Offenders

An experimental program to track sex offenders in Allegheny County is over and the final report on whether it worked is due out this week.

Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle spoke with the people responsible for testing the equipment in Allegheny County,and Earle also found one nearby county where GPS tracking is already in use.

After being outfitted with a GPS tracking device,one of the registered sex offenders who took part in the pilot program told authorities he would be heading home.

Instead,investigators tracked him to a local mall,where he hung out for nearly an hour. Another registered sex offender cut off his bracelet on the very first day of the program and took off. Authorities tracked him down.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the sex offender cut off the bracelet because he will re-offend.

Zappala said the 44 other sex offenders who participated in the voluntary two-month experiment played by the rules.

The other guys were smart enough. They didn’t commit any crimes,and we couldn’t put them on any crimes,said Zappala.

While Allegheny County is testing several GPS units to see which ones work the best,Target 11 discovered some counties in the area are already using GPS technology.

All these green dots,that’s where the person has been,said Westmoreland County probation supervisor Gary Miscovich.

Westmoreland County has been using GPS for several months. Right now,they are tracking two defendants released from jail. One involves a defendant in a drug case,the other is a domestic violence case. Probation officials said they plan to put another defendant on GPS very soon and the hope to expand the program to include sex offenders.

Westmoreland Count Adult Probation and Parole director,Bruno Mediate,showed Channel 11 News how the system works.

The defendant wears an ankle bracelet that transmits a signal to a satellite pinpointing the defendant’s exact location at all times. Using a computer or a smartphone,probation officers can check on the defandant’s location. They can also see the route he or she traveled. The tracking device also reveals the time and location.

Probation officers can also set up what is known as exclusion zones. If a defendant enters an exclusion zone,an alert will come in to the probation officer. Exclusion zones can be set up around a victims home or work,a day care,school or any other area that is considered off limits for a defendant.

If the defendant would go into that zone we would have an officer get paged immediately,said Miscovich.

In Allegheny County,the community of McKees Rocks has 55 registered sex offenders. Three of them participated in the pilot program. McKees Rocks Police Chief Robert Cifrulak told Target 11 that he supports GPS tracking of registered sex offenders.

We have a number of Megan’s Law violators that live here and this could certainly provide an extra level of comfort,said Cifrulak.

Neighbors also told Earle they like the idea of monitoring sex offenders 24/7.

When you made the choice to commit the crime,you gave up your freedom. So if that means you have to wear an electronic monitoring device to know where you are at,then so be it,said a resident who didnt want to be identified.

We put the bracelets on these guys and it works,said Zappala,who told Target 11 that after witnessing the pilot program,he hopes to make it a permanent program soon.

Zappala told Target 11 that he also wants to require GPS tracking for any violent offender released on bail.

It has reduced crime and in terms of peace of mind for somebody who has children,especially young children,it’s huge,said Zappala.

And what about the costs of GPS tracking? Officials said it has come down significantly. Experts said it costs $75 per day to house an inmate in jail. GPS tracking,they contend,can be done for approximately $20 per day. In addition,they said that a portion of the costs will be passed along to the defendant.

E-Mail Newsletter:
Get The Latest News Sent To Your E-Mail!

Get WPXI Headlines On Your Phone,iPhone,More

Add Us To Your Page!

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed | Amazon Plugin | Hud Settlement Statement

Comments are closed.