GPS Monitoring – Good for Tracking Not for Crime Prevention
GPS monitoring for arrests and detention have become extremely popular for a number of reasons. First, state and federal prisons are maxed out with inmates, and there are far more non-violent criminals and suspects than there are violent ones. As a result, space has to be prioritized.
Second, GPS signaling provides a computerized and easy way to keep track of a person when limitations on that person involve lesser detention practices such as house arrest, limited movement, staying away from specific areas or facilities and easy general tracking. In these cases, the tool has generally been advantageous and far more effective than having these persons appear regularly to only lie or omit information about where they have been.
How a GPS Monitor Works
GPS tracking uses a device that is secured to a person and sends out a repeat signal. That signal is then picked up by two or three satellites which then send back locational information to a recipient computer. The triangulation of the location data pinpoints the location of the signal sender to within a few feet of the actual physical spot.
Devices can regularly send signals every few second or minutes, depending on their setting. On regular mode, the device can last for days or weeks before needing a battery refresh.
When it is Applied
GPS monitor tracking as a form of detention works very well where a court or penal system doesn’t want to bear the cost of dealing with a low-level criminal. Instead, with the monitoring, the disruption and cost to society is minimized while the person is controlled.
For house arrest and limited traffic situations, the tool works very well.
Most GPS systems can track a signal every few seconds to every few minutes. This allows law enforcement to confirm a suspect is actually in his house or at his place of work only and nowhere else as required by sentencing. Drunk driving suspects, diversion suspects, and minor drug violation suspects typically fit the bill for such treatment. Schedules can be managed for commute time or when the suspect needs to appear at certain locations. Otherwise he better be at home or work to avoid being arrested again.
GPS tracking is also beneficial when a suspect, not yet convicted or pending trial, is set free but concerns are raised that bail may not be enough to prevent him skipping town. With a GPS device, law enforcement can know exactly where the suspect to be tried is located at all times. This alleviates jail overcrowding again while still maintaining a level of monitoring and due process.
The same approach can also be used with a witness who may be critical for a case but may not want to appear when the trial date arrives. Instead of holding the witness in a jail cell, as that seems to be the only way the court can hold someone, a GPS device can solve the location problem instead, avoiding putting in innocent person in prison even temporarily.
Where GPS Monitoring Doesn’t Help
With criminals that a prone to intentionally break the law again, GPS monitoring won’t stop them. Even with tracking, the system is only as good as the signal it sends. If the suspect figures out how to commit crime again, then he’s pretty much at large and the signal sent won’t stop the act from occurring.
This was tragically realized in the case of teenager Alycia Nipp who was murdered by a sex offender with a monitoring device on him. In these cases, actual physical detention still remains the far better punishment solution, especially with a criminal that has a known risk pattern of being violent or dangerous.