"This, in essence, takes away most of our ability to track these monsters. I'm left with my jaw wide open," Suder said Wednesday. "He signed the bill. He highlighted the bill throughout his campaign. Now he is nothing short of gutting the bill. I find it appalling."
Doyle spokesman Matt Canter insisted the governor believes "cutting edge" technology should be used to monitor sex offenders. But after he told the state Department of Corrections to implement the law, the agency found what Canter termed "structural issues" with it.
Susan Crawford, executive assistant to Corrections Secretary Matt Frank, said the governor and the agency have concluded GPS tracking isn't a good tool for monitoring sex offenders who are no longer under government supervision. The system would do little to prevent offenders from committing new crimes; it would simply allow investigators to piece together their movements after the fact.
The technology is much more useful when combined with other tools used in supervision, such as polygraph testing and restricting an offender's movements, she said, adding offenders on lifetime supervision would be subject to lifetime tracking.
When asked why Doyle, who faced re-election in November, didn't realize that before he signed the bill, Crawford said "it took a lot of analysis on our part. The bill went through the Legislature rather quickly."
One of the chief problems for GPS proponents is the incredible cost of the system, especially if the state hopes to achieve anything close to real-time monitoring. In my writing about residency restrictions, I wondered if GPS monitoring would really catch on because of the expense. It appears that Wisconsin is one data point for the argument that heavy regulation of sex offenders is always politically easy unless it costs a lot of money.