SD considers satellite tracking of parolees

State is cautious. No violent offenders will be eligible for program using GPS tracking technology. D

In South Dakota, officials are considering expanding a pilot program that monitors sex offenders with satellites, Argus Leader reports.

But the technology is rife with controversy, as its use across the country has had serious problems.

In some cases, offenders have been released from prison and put on a monitoring system, then committed crimes again. In the past two years in the U.S., a young girl was accosted in one case, a woman was shot and killed in another and a South Carolina woman was raped in yet another case - all by suspects under surveillance.

There are positive aspects to the devices, proponents say. They can help former inmates start jobs, see counselors and have a measure of accountability - ultimately keeping them from returning to the penal system, supporters say.

But in South Dakota, officials are asking about which offenses would be appropriate in the state.

"Determining what infractions are acceptable will aid officials in selecting offenders for the program," according to a 2005 issue memorandum by the South Dakota Legislative Research Council.

Property and drunken driving offenders tend to be most successful in electronic monitoring programs, according to the paper published by Chris Eitemiller, fiscal analyst for the Legislative Research Council.

Denny Kaemingk, a member of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, said community safety is the first thing the board thinks of when deciding whether to parole someone.

"We are not going to parole someone that we don't think should be out there," Kaemingk said. "If we feel that person shouldn't be out, they should not be out," he said.