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|Santa Clara County, CA||June 6, 2006 Election|
Monitoring sexual predators with GPS is a worthy expense
By Jim ShoreCandidate for District Attorney; County of Santa Clara
This information is provided by the candidate
Op Ed by Jim Shore, published in San Jose Mercury News on March 15, 2006Every parent knows the sinking feeling. When we learn of another child killed, kidnapped or assaulted, we remember just how vulnerable our children can be. The sad fact is that more than two-thirds of all victims of rape and sexual assault are under the age of 18.
As a professional prosecutor, I have helped send murderers, rapists and child molesters to prison. Like everyone in the law enforcement community, I am doing everything in my power to protect the most vulnerable victims -- our children.
But I can't say the same right now for the state of California. A powerful new technology is available to protect our children, but it remains relatively unused because of political battles in Sacramento.
The device is called GPS (global positioning system), and it can be used to track the movements of convicted child predators and other sexual offenders once they leave prison. Many law enforcement professionals want to use this new tool to safeguard our communities by providing 24-hour monitoring. While there are more than 2,500 registered sex offenders in Santa Clara County, the frightening reality is that their daily whereabouts are largely unknown to law enforcement.
The hard truth is that we can rehabilitate drug users, but sexual predators are a different kind of criminal. They are subject to an untreatable pathology. And we know that once released, they are likely to repeat their offenses and victimize again.
That's why we should unite as a community in support of Jessica's Law (the Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act of 2006), a proposal to provide 24-hour GPS monitoring of registered sexual offenders. This is a smart and cost-effective use of new technology to help protect our families. The proposal toughens sexual-assault laws, including preventing released predators from living within 2,000 yards of a school or park. The most innovative aspect of the proposed law is the requirement that registered sexual offenders released on parole wear GPS transponders so their movements can be tracked by law enforcement.
Opponents of the law point out that it doesn't protect every single child or every potential victim of rape or other sex crime. Yet implementation of the law will protect many more children and adults than are protected now. With 24-hour monitoring, these released offenders will know we are always watching. This alone will deter some crimes of opportunity, as has been documented in Florida where this technology has been in use. And it will certainly make it much easier to arrest quickly and prosecute fairly those who re-offend.
In addition to the ability of GPS to deter future acts of victimization, it will help law enforcement officers to act faster and smarter when an offense is committed. We will be able to quickly identify all the known sexual offenders in the immediate area. Every minute that passes while police attempt to target suspects is critical. Dozens of potential suspects can be immediately eliminated if we can verify that they were in the wrong place to have committed the offense.
Opponents also the cite cost of monitoring. But monitoring is much less expensive than other alternatives, and frankly, a very small price to pay to protect children and adults from the worst type of violence.
I know from my prosecutorial background that many of these predators were themselves victims of sex crimes as children. While 24-hour monitoring seems harsh to some, to me it is absolutely necessary to help break this terrible cycle of sexual violence.
There is something deeply wrong when we can put an ankle bracelet on Martha Stewart and monitor her 24 hours a day during her parole -- but sexual predators are released into Santa Clara County without adequate supervision.
Until the day that medical science can reliably treat these predators and cure their dangerous pathology, we need to use the powerful tool of GPS monitoring to keep our children and our communities safe.
Position Paper 2
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