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May 14, 2006
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California to map sex offender homes with GPS

By SAMANTHA YOUNG
Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, California- California plans to map the homes of nearly 2,000 sexual offenders using Global Positioning System satellite technology to certify they are staying far enough from schools, the head of the corrections department announced Saturday.

Acting Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton said high-risk sex offenders will be monitored to ensure they are living at least a half-mile (about a kilometer) from schools, in accordance with state law.

"In the past we used the old way of verifying placement, driving the streets and measuring the distance from a parolee's home to a school or park; today that isn't good enough," Tilton said. "We will use whatever technology we can to make sure we are in compliance with all state laws and guidelines."

The statewide audit comes at a time when the department is grappling over its sex offender program, which has been the subject of complaints it paroled high-risk sex offenders to hotels near Disneyland.

The department said parole agents will begin using GPS technology this week to measure the distance between schools and residences of 1,808 high-risk sex offenders.

The state classifies a person as a high-risk offender based upon previous offenses, the number of victims in a crime, the level of violence of a crime and the likelihood a person will re-offend, said department spokeswoman Elaine Jennings.

The state also tracks 417 high-risk offenders with a GPS ankle bracelet as part of a pilot program to monitor and track their movement. The device sends an alert when an offender goes into forbidden zones.

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