Effective January 1, 2017, Missouri sex offenders guilty of 13 different sex crimes based on acts committed on or after August 28, 2006, are subject to additional security requirements. They will be required to wear GPS monitoring devices for the rest of their lives. This includes defendants who were sentenced before this requirement was enacted. This raises two important issues. First, many of these defendants resolved their cases prior to the first of this year, and this requirement was not included in their original plea arrangement or sentence. Additionally, it makes daily functioning in the community as a convicted sex offender that much more onerous and burdensome. Both of these issues require careful consideration.
The GPS devices at issue alert authorities if an offender “lingers” near a school or park. When the device activates, the defendant receives directions from a state official to, for example, report immediately to a probation officer. The devices are also waterproof, and will alert the authorities if a defendant attempts to remove it. The new rules affect hundreds of sex offenders throughout the state.
The first problem that the implementation of this GPS monitoring technology raises is that it was not contemplated by plea deals agreed to, or sentences imposed, prior to January 1, 2017. Defendants who resolved their cases prior to the implementation date agreed to plead guilty based upon certain stated terms and conditions, all of which were presumably included in the records of their cases. At sentencing, the court imposed certain terms and conditions of supervision with which they had to comply prospectively. They were presumably advised by competent counsel, received notice of all of the requirements of community supervision, and consented to them in connection with the disposition of their cases. In short, they knew the deal, and consented to it. Now, after the fact, the rules are being changed with the addition of new, burdensome requirements that are apparently permanent. How the terms and conditions of a plea arrangement or sentence can be so altered with no discussion or debate runs roughshod over basic concepts of due process, as well as fairness and decency. Continue reading