Global Position Satellite Monitoring for High Risk Sex Offenders in San Diego: Implementation and Outcome Analysis of a Pilot Study

Principal Investigators: Susan Turner, Ph.D. and Jesse Jannetta, M.P.P. , University of California, Irvine

Sex offenders, particularly those classified as “high-risk” to re-offend, represent a substantial danger to public safety upon their release from incarceration. Correctional professionals view this risk as uniquely difficult to address due to the lifelong duration of the offending behavior, the propensity of sex offenders to be highly manipulative and deceitful, and the high percentage of sex offenses that go unreported due to the victim and offender knowing one another. With 8,943 sex offenders under parole supervision at the end of 2004, and 1,906 of those classified as high risk, addressing the danger of sex offenders is a serious community supervision responsibility for the state of California.

The state of California has launched a pilot project to employ GPS monitoring to supplement their supervision of their High Risk Sex Offender (HRSO) parole caseload. The purpose of the project is to reduce victimization by sex offender parolees through enhanced deterrence and detection, and to expedite the solution of crime, particularly sex crimes, by combining the GPS data on sex offender whereabouts with law enforcement data on crime locations. In the pilot, 80 HRSO’s on four parole caseloads in San Diego County will be outfitted with GPS tracking devices. It is the intent of the state to expand the program throughout the state if it proves successful.

The major research questions of the research are: 1) What motivated the GPS HRSO program/what is the program design?2) What are the characteristics of the offenders who participated in the pilot/how do they compare with other HRSO offenders in San Diego and statewide? 3)What were the implementation experiences? 4) What impact did GPS have on system and offender behavior? 5) What were the costs of the pilot program? Both qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to address these questions. HRSO offenders who are currently not under GPS supervision will serve as a comparison group for the study.