By Gabriella Dunn
Sex offenders accounted for 80 percent of all electronically monitored criminals in Iowa in 2013, the Iowa Department of Corrections’ 2013 annual report stated. Monitoring systems, which are tracking devices attached to the offender, vary in strictness.
A new state law in 2006 required a minimum five years of electronic monitoring for people convicted of certain crimes against minors, including sexually violent crimes. That changed in 2009 when the state dropped the five-year requirement and gave judges discretion over what the punishment should be.
The number of sex offenders on GPS monitoring jumped 55 percent from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2013. However, the fiscal 2013 number dropped to 554 from a five-year high of 575 offenders in fiscal 2012, according to the research council’s report.
Randy Cole, residential correctional supervisor for Iowa’s Sixth Judicial District, said he agrees with the 2009 decision to lift the 2006 electronic monitoring requirement.
“It’s a good intermediate sanction tool, but to put someone on it long term and just think we’ve solved the problem, that’s not going to work,” Cole said. “It gives a false sense of security.”
It also leads to a misconception that electronic monitoring services can replace or reduce probation parole officers, Cole said.