Many sex offenders won't have GPS devices after court ruling

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) -- Right now, hundreds of Missouri sex offenders are without ankle monitoring GPS devices because a judge ordered a stop to the practice temporarily.

"The people with the most heinous actions are lumped in with the people who have mild actions," said Adam Woody.

Criminal defense attorney Adam Woody says the practice of applying GPS ankle monitoring for all sex offenders, will likely be ruled unconstitutional.

"This is above and beyond the sex offense registry, this is above and beyond any type of supervision. This is electronic monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of their lives," Woody said.

It all comes down to the interpretation of a law -- and that's what the court is considering.
A state statute from 2006 was updated by the legislature in recent years after an eight-year-study.
Lawmakers attempted to clarify it.

"The law was never intended to cover all sex offenders, it was only certain sex offenders," said State Senator Bob Dixon (R-Springfield).

Dixon says the goal of the clarification in 2014 was to fit some of the more serious sex offenders for ankle monitoring. Lawmakers allowed two-and-a-half years to pass so the state government and attorneys could study it before it took effect in 2017.

But a recent interpretation included all sex offenders for this monitoring and that's what's being challenged.

"There were some offenders who were sentenced to lifetime monitoring. Not all offenders were sentenced to that. So it's an open legal question and I should leave it at that," Senator Dixon said.

Woody says one of the problems is that there is no grade or range of sex offenses in Missouri, right now they're lumped together. Woody says a tiered system would alleviate this issue, it's something state lawmakers have not yet taken up.

"It's a new burden on people who have plead years ago, oftentimes a decade ago. So it's a new obligation on these people who have plead to these offenses in years past," Woody said.

So far the Missouri Department of Corrections Board of Probation and Parole installed 364 GPS ankle monitors on sex offenders in April because of new security requirements.

They have 30 days to remove those devices. No word on when a decision will be made by the court, but one attorney tells us that current injunction could be made permanent in July.