After being convicted of the rape of a 25 year-old girl and only serving 11 years in a federal prison, Phillip Garrido was set free. Although Garrido followed through with his mandatory check-ins with his parole officer, and in 2006 began wearing a GPS tracker, he was still able to kidnap, rape, and hold a young girl against her will for over 18 years. Since the horrific events of this story were brought to light, many questions surrounding the success of GPS tracking systems as deterrents to criminal behavior, among other questions, were raised. Clearly, the 58-year-old Garrido was able to successfully commit these vile crimes and evade capture for almost two decades. So the questions people now find themselves asking is:
1. What needs to be done to prevent sexual offenders from repeating crimes?
2. How could a parole officer not suspect Garrido was engaging in criminal activity again?
3. Are GPS monitoring devices really preventing sexual offenders from repeating crimes?
Although the most popular question being asked is if GPS tracking systems are an effective solution to prevent future sexual offenses, the important question is how was Garrido able to continue raping and holding a young woman captive when he was being monitored by authorities? The answer appears to be failure of competency from the parole board and parole officers assigned to ensure Garrido was not engaging in criminal behavior, not GPS tracking system technology.
How could a man such as Garrido be released from prison when it appears obvious he was still suffering from severe mental illness and was not ready to be released back into society? And why is it that none of Garrido’s parole officers ever visited his residence to inspect his surroundings and living situation? If a parole officer visited Garrido’s residence just one time they would have seen the compound style housing and the young girl being held captive against her will. The red flags were present and should have been identified by the trained authorities. Some form of surveillance was needed and was neglected.
Another preventative measure law enforcement use to monitor sexual offenders on parole is GPS tracking systems. Garrido was actually equipped with a GPS monitoring device in 2006 so authorities could get notification if he ever traveled around or passed by elementary schools or other places considered “off limits” by law authorities. Unfortunately, when Garrido began wearing the GPS tracker he had already kidnapped a young girl and was still holding her captive, assaulting her sexually on a constant sickening basis. Although GPS technology was unable to help her it may have prevented Garrido from kidnapping anyone else. However, the situation showcases the need for a more comprehensive approach to monitoring those with historical records of serious crimes.
Real-time GPS monitoring systems are used in the form of anklets, bracelets and personal tracking solutions to monitor sex offenders and other criminals. What these live GPS tracking systems allow officers to to do is to view everywhere a criminal goes and everywhere they have been to validate that they are not frequenting high-risk environments. The historical tracking data can be saved and viewed at a later time, safe zones can be created to notify authorities if the criminal is in a area they are not supposed to be and the GPS units are even equipped with sensors that will notify police if the tracker device is tampered with.
SilverCloud monitoring solutions in both the portable and OBDii version are two of the most widely used live monitoring devices on the market right now for personal monitoring applications, police investigations and business fleet operation tracking. Other solutions without live tracking costs are also available in devices such as the GPS Tracking Key which is one of the most widely used data loggers in the world.
Going forward authorities need to implement an eclectic approach of investigative work that involves both old-fashioned detective work as well as technological innovations such as GPS tracking to make sure habitual criminals do not continue on a deviant lawless path. Although there are no statistics available to show how many crimes have been prevented due to the use of GPS tracking systems, it is evident that personal monitoring devices and real-time vehicle tracking systems do make sexual offenders think twice about potential ramifications of committing a crime. However, GPS monitoring technology is only a tool. At the end of the day, a strong police presence on the streets where sex offenders reside, as well as diligent work by police, parole and probation officers is necessary to sustain all citizens’ safety. With GPS tracking systems monitoring sexual offenders and authorities thoroughly investigating these high-risk people, hopefully, kidnapping, rapes, and molestations will be prevented in the future.