Stopping registered sex offenders before they reoffend

The recent murder of Poway, Calif. high school student Chelsea King, killed while she was running at a public park, is one of the most tragic stories in recent memory. It gripped the nation and is begging some very important questions about how state and local governments deal with the hundreds of thousands of registered sex offenders on the nation’s streets.

Almost the entire nation is now aware of Chelsea’s murder last month, but what is maybe more subtly shocking is the fact that California’s 118,692 registered sex offenders are falling through the cracks of the justice system. This trend also applies to the rest of the nation’s over 640,000, and growing, sex offenders.

Theories on how to detain, treat and manage convicted sex offenders abound, but we wanted to get input from someone who has dealt with public safety for over 30 years, ADT’s Patrick Fiel.

We asked Patrick what the government can and should do to keep the public safe from convicted sex offenders. Here’s his take on what the security industry can do to help:

PSW: It’s clear that more resources need to be devoted to monitoring convicted sex offenders, where and how can the security industry help with that task?

PF: Security companies already monitor millions of American homes and thousands of schools and other facilities across the country, so the logical progression of the use of that technology to help deal with sex offenders would be to track convicted offenders. GPS tracking needs to be placed on all sex offenders indefinitely, that way we know exactly when they are somewhere they shouldn’t be, whether it’s near a school, public park where kids play, or even out of a pre-defined area. We have to work with the federal government to get the resources together to support this goal. The technology and the infrastructure are already there.

PSW: That’s a great use of existing technology. Should state and local governments be working with the federal government to make that happen?

PF: Monitoring of sex offenders is something that really needs to be defined by the federal government first. Federal officials have to establish a taskforce dedicated to providing the oversight and the funding needed to make this happen. If they do not step up and take control to give the state and local governments the resources they need, these offenders will have the opportunity to keep offending over and over again.

PSW: Are there any state or local governments that you see as examples of successful confinement, registration and monitoring of offenders?

PF: Yes, there are a few municipalities out there that have devoted the time, resources and technology to better managing these offenders. It’s not an easy thing to do, that’s why so many of the states are failing to do it. It’s a matter of enacting legislation to keep these sex offenders locked up, or monitored to the point where law enforcement has enough information to know a sex offender’s next move – before he or she makes it. That’s where security technology does the most good, it takes the risky guesswork out of the job of keeping tabs on offenders. Sex offenders are not a group we should be playing guessing games with.

Security technology and monitoring centers have the potential to make keeping the public safer more than just a hope. But it’s going to take cooperation between state, local and federal government entities to enact legislation that will enable government and private industry to work together for effective public safety.

— PSW staff

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