06 December 2007

GPS Stops Sex Offender Recidivism

While criminals are frequently not rational actors, apparently, a near certainty that they will be caught if they reoffend does have an impact.

Only one out of the state's 225 worst sex offenders, all being monitored by a new satellite-tracking system, was implicated in a new sex crime over a two-year period, the State Parole Board said Wednesday. . . . The one offender arrested out of the 225 being monitored was apprehended at the scene of a rape in April 2006. That case is pending. Nineteen other offenders committed technical offenses, such as not properly wearing the GPS device, in the two-year window.

From here.

In Colorado, two-thirds of sex offenders in an intensive supervision program have their probation (which admittedly isn't technically the same as parole as it usually involves less serious offenders) have their probation revoked or abscond. In raw numbers, out of 214 offenders in the 2007 fiscal year, 121 had their probation revoked and 23 absconded, while 70 successfully completed their probation. Of the revocations, 11 were for new felonies, 7 for new misdemeanors and 103 were for technical violations.

The story quoted above implies, but doesn't actualy state, that no one in the program committed a new non-sex felony or misdemeanor. But, at any rate, given the low number of technical violations, it is safe to conclude despite imperfect information, that the failure rate in the GPS program in New Jersey is far lower than in a similar Colorado program. This is true despite the fact that the Colorado program appears to have less serious offenders who ought to do better rather than worse.

Given the immense cost to the state of reincarcerating felons who fail when released, and the immense cost to the public when felons commit new crimes when released, there is little doubt that the GPS program is good for New Jersey's state budget as well.

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