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Report: Monitoring sex offenders works

The N.J. Parole Board said electronic bracelets on high-risk individuals helped prevent assaults.

Electronic tracking bracelets worn by high-risk sex offenders on parole help prevent new assaults, the New Jersey Parole Board has found.

Of 225 sex offenders monitored by Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, only one has been implicated in a new sex crime, according to a report released yesterday.

"This monitoring strengthens public safety by tracking the most dangerous convicted sex offenders living in New Jersey communities," Parole Board chairman Peter Barnes Jr. said.

Barnes said the technology, authorized by the Legislature as a pilot project two years ago and made permanent in August, was vital to the agency's "containment approach to sex-offender supervision."

The Parole Board oversees 4,300 paroled sex offenders, whose sentencing guidelines call for lifetime supervision. Only those deemed at highest risk of committing new sex crimes are outfitted with electronic monitoring bracelets, which use satellite technology to track their whereabouts at all times.

Tom Rosenthal, spokesman for the Public Defender's Office, said electronic monitoring alone would not bring down the number of repeat crimes.

"As the state Parole Board report states, it is the combination of factors put into effect through the Parole Supervision for Life program, which maintains a stable living environment for sex offenders, that is resulting in lower recidivism rates," he said.

State Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said he was encouraged by the results.

"My goal now is to make sure that those responsible for implementing the program are able to prevent all of the offenders from figuring out how to elude surveillance," he said. "Today's report suggests the program has the potential to provide long-term help in preventing the sexual victimization of children."