UW law professors say lifetime GPS law unconstitutional

Law that forces sex offenders to wear GPS tracking devices for life is warrantless surveillance and lifelong punishment, professors say of Wisconsin law.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor on
A Wisconsin state law forcing sexual predators to wear tracking devices for the rest of their lives is unconstitutional, three University of Wisconsin-Madison law professors said in a letter sent to the Corrections Dept. earlier this month.
The measure violates privacy rights and amounts to punishment and warrantless surveillance when applied to offenders who aren't on parole or government supervision, the professors said in a letter sent to Corrections Secretary Matthew Frank on Feb. 3.

"A clearer example of governmental intrusion into personal privacy is difficult to imagine," wrote law professors Walter Dickey, Byron Lichstein and Meredith Ross.

The law's main author, state Rep. Scott Suder, a Republican, objected to the comments.

"They might want to talk to the victims of these crimes before they make such outrageous statements," Suder said. "Nothing is going to stop us form implementing GPS. We are on very solid constitutional grounds."

The professors argue that forcing offenders who have completed their government supervision is unconstitutional. Corrections has no authority over them, they said.

Constantly wearing a GPS unit that must be recharged every 12 hours amounts to punishment and warrantless surveillance, the professors wrote.

"Constant, lifetime GPS tracking is physically and psychologically burdensome," they said.

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