Court: Lifelong GPS Tracking of Sex Offenders Is OK
Wisconsin's statute declared constitutional
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2016 2:30 PM CST
In this file photo, a parole agent talks with a parolee wearing a GPS locator on his ankle.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – It's perfectly constitutional to require some convicted sex offenders to wear a GPS tracker all day, every day, for the rest of their lives. That's per the Seventh Circuit federal appeals court, which ruled Friday on the case of Michael Belleau. He was convicted in 1992 of sexually assaulting a boy from the time the boy was 8 until he was 13; Belleau served a year in prison, but while he was on probation he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl. For that, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and paroled after six; a year later he confessed to "grooming" two little girls for sex, his parole was revoked, and he was committed for five years. In 2010, he was released, but only under the condition that he wear a GPS monitoring anklet every hour of every day for the rest of his life, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reports. Belleau sued the Wisconsin Department of Corrections over the statute requiring that penalty, Courthouse News reports.

He argued that the state's lifetime monitoring statute violates his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches, and initially, a federal judge agreed. But the Seventh Circuit found that the statute is constitutional and that sex offenders can, within reason, be constantly monitored. "Pedophilia is a lifelong affliction for which there is no treatment," Judge Richard Posner wrote for the three-judge panel. "Coupled with the particularly devastating consequences of their conduct, these offenders pose a unique ... challenge for conventional law enforcement techniques," and this statute "is not punishment; it is prevention." Posner noted that the need to protect children trumps the need to protect a sex offender's privacy, and added that since Wisconsin sex offenders' addresses, photos, and criminal records are already public, the additional monitoring isn't excessive. (Go inside the mind of an infamous sex offender.)