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Suspected predator cuts GPS monitor; Colton Moore’s Disturbing Vote
According to WDEF News 12, a man suspected of child molestation in Walker County cut his GPS ankle bracelet on May 13th and is now on the run. He is believed to be a child sexual predator, according to police. He was released from jail on bail with the condition that he wear a monitoring device.
Unsettling news like this reminds me of an issue relevant to Northwest Georgia: ankle monitoring for Georgia's most dangerous and most risky sex offenders.
“A landmark 2019 court ruling has led to nearly half of Georgia’s most high-risk sex offenders being released from their ankle monitors….520 of 1,108 people in Georgia classified as “sexually dangerous predators” most at risk for committing future sex crimes have been freed from GPS tracking devices, according to Tracy Alvord, executive director of the state Sexual Offender Registration Review Board.”
House bill 720 was a response to this ruling. The bill aimed to reinstate the ankle monitoring requirement for the most at risk and dangerous sex offenders in Georgia. Colton Moore voted against House bill 720 and again sided with the majority of Democrats.
Given that recidivism rates (tendency of convicted criminals to reoffend) in sexually dangerous predators range from 20.5 to 53.5%, I find it strange and disturbing Moore voted against the bill.
GPS-tracked ankle monitors can help local authorities prevent sex crimes by showing officials whether offenders go to off-limits places like a school or have recently interacted with people they shouldn't.
A presentation produced by the state sex offender review board in 2019 provided two examples of the use of GPS tracking to catch sexually dangerous predators reoffending (indecent exposure in one case and stalking in the other case). One case in Dalton and another in Paulding County.
Although Moore and Democratic members opposed the bill, it passed just before COVID-19 threw the legislative session into turmoil.
This troubling vote is part of a trend and in the same vein as Moore’s vote against law enforcement and against the Police Protection Act.
Background supporting HB 720
Researchers from the National Institute of Justice have studied the effects GPS monitoring has on recidivism rates for sex offenders. During the 1-year study period, participants in the GPS group achieved significantly greater compliance and lower recidivism rates. In terms of compliance, the hazard ratio of sexual related violations was closer to three times higher for parolees on traditional supervision (control group) compared to parolees on GPS supervision.