Global Positioning System (GPS) and the criminal justice system


Ten to fifteen years ago, GPS was pretty much an unknown to the public.  Now GPS technology is used in cars for directions, cell phones to find the closest café and in the criminal justice system. 

It is more common today to see GPS monitoring as part of a person’s criminal disposition.  Many times attorneys will use it as a last bargaining chip to keep their clients out of committed time.  This post is not to consider the pros and cons of the GPS monitoring, but to dissect what the GPS is really all about. 

If you are pleading out to a charge that requires you to be monitored by GPS what does that really mean?  Well first, the purpose of the GPS is to track and monitor the movements of the probationer.  The GPS itself operates on inclusion and exclusion zones. 

The person being monitored has to wear a transmitter that will allow the person to be seen wherever he or she goes.  The person who is wearing the transmitter must also carry a phone with them all the time.  If the person walks into or near an exclusionary zone, he or she will receive a phone call to leave right away.  If the person doesn’t leave after the phone call warning or doesn’t pick up the phone, the police will be called. 

The length of time that a person is to be monitored is to be decided by the judge.  The cost of this device is $9.45 a day or around $300 a month.  This fee can be waived by the judge.  The inclusion and exclusion zones are also usually decided by the judge.  For example, the usual exclusionary zones for sex offenders are playgrounds, schools and daycare centers.  The exclusionary zones can also be more tailored to the particular case, such as the victim’s home, work or school. 

Some things to keep in mind are that the GPS monitoring is mandatory for most sex offenses.  In order to get on a GPS there needs to be a unit available and a time to hook the person up.  The hook-ups are scheduled through the Commissioner of Probation (OCP).  If a person is custody and the judge won’t release them until they have a GPS, it may take a little while to find an available unit and to schedule a day for OCP to come hook up the unit. 

 GPS monitoring is becoming more common in Massachusetts and in different states.  The process that I have discussed in this post is not a universal procedure.  It is important for you to find out the protocol in the county that will be doing the monitoring. 

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For more information about GPS, visit:

More States Move to use GPS Tracking of Sex Offenders

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,196455,00.html

 Attorney Dan Schumann’s blog about GPS

http://gpsevidence.blogspot.com/2009/09/voluntary-gps-tracking-for-impulsive.html

 William Saletan-Why GPS tracking is good news for inmates

http://www.slate.com/id/2118117/

Is GPS monitoring the better way?

http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2006/11/is_gps_tracking.html

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. can i copy your article to post to my blog?


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