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Monitoring Tennessee's Sex Offenders Using GPS Systems: A Follow-up Evaluation

September 2008:

Governor Bredesen signed Senate Bill 2235/House Bill 2314 that took effect on July 1, 2007 authorizing the Board of Probation and Parole (hereinafter referred to as BOPP) to continuously monitor offenders convicted of rape of a child using global positioning systems (GPS) for the remainder of their life. This act has been referred to as “Jessica’s Law.” Since passage of this act, BOPP has made GPS monitoring a mandatory condition of community supervision for ALL offenders convicted of rape of a child, with the exception of those who are currently incapacitated.

The passage of Jessica’s Law expanded BOPP’s global positioning system pilot project to a statewide endeavor. Because the legislation expanded the project statewide, it had a fiscal impact on BOPP. Specifically, expansion of the project required additional positions and the associated costs that extended beyond prior project appropriations. A total of $1,890,900 was added to BOPP’s base budget (funding a total of 46 positions) in fiscal year 2007-08. These dollars were in addition to the $1,235,000 that was already part of BOPP’s base budget to fund the operational cost of GPS. The $1,235,000 was added to the base budget in fiscal year 2004-05.

In the fiscal year 08-09 budget, funding for both the statewide expansion of GPS monitoring for rape of a child offenders (Jessica’s Law) totaling $1,890,900, and the appropriation for operating costs, totaling $1,235,000, were made non-recurring. BOPP requested a budgetary improvement (see Appendix A) to restore those dollars to recurring status in BOPP’s base budget for fiscal year 2009-2010. The 46 positions established with the Jessica’s Law appropriation have been filled and the new staff has successfully expanded the original GPS pilot project to a statewide monitoring program for those sex offenders with the highest risk to the public. The total requested includes the $1,235,000 operational funding, the $1,890,900 Jessica’s Law appropriation, and $181,000, the cost of funding the three percent raise received since the appropriation was made (based on the position costs listed in the Department of Human Resource’s classification/compensation plan).

In reviewing the overall GPS supervision program, BOPP recommends the continuation of GPS as a supervision tool. A detailed analysis of the benefits and limitations associated with GPS monitoring follows.

For the remainder of this paper: by State of Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole

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