Does GPS improve recidivism among high risk sex offenders? Outcomes for California’s GPS pilot for high risk sex offender parolees

One of the most contentious aspects of current correctional policy has been the supervision and monitoring of sex offenders. Due to the horrifying crimes committed by sex offenders, the public has called for increased levels of offender scrutiny. However, critics point to recent legislation that imposes onerous housing restrictions along with public reprimands that prevent many offenders from successfully reentering society. In contrast to the surveillance and monitoring provided by specialized sex offender caseloads, the current study tests the effectiveness of GPS tracking for high risk sex offender parolees. GPS sex offenders were marginally less likely to abscond and be found guilty of failing to register than non-GPS offenders, demonstrating relative success in achieving two purposes of sex offender legislation: knowing where sex offenders are and ensuring they are registered. Furthermore, GPS offenders were less likely to be charged with a brand-new criminal offence; nevertheless, there was no discernible changes in the nature of brand-new criminal offences.