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Satellite monitoring of sex offenders under attack

In a two-part story on North Caroina's satellite-based monitoring of sex offenders program, the Winston-Salem Journal newspaper found that technological limitations create a system that some say does nothing more than create a false feeling of security. Additionally, legal challenges may reduce the number of offenders who will have to enroll. The Journal built an in-house spreadsheet to track more than a year's worth of decisions out of the state Court of Appeals, which showed that GPS monitoring was overturned in more than half the cases the court considered. The Journal also used a database of statistics provided by the program's administrators to determine that 41 percent of enrollees were being tracked despite the fact that there were no restrictions on where they could go. The data were also used to create an interactive map that showed the distribution of GPS-monitored sex offenders across the state using the Geocommons map builder.

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