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Image credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Court rules that felon has to wear GPS ankle device for life

There's no wearable worse than this.

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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

A convicted pedophile from Wisconsin has no choice but to continue wearing the worst wearable device ever -- a GPS ankle tracker -- for the rest of his life. According to Ars Technica, the offender named Michael Belleau went to court to have the tracker removed. He explained that he had already served time (for sexually assaulting one boy and one girl) and isn't on post-prison supervision. While the federal judge agreed with him, the appeals court sided with the state of Wisconsin that challenged the lower court's decision. The Badger State passed a law in 2008 that requires convicted pedophiles to wear a GPS tracker till the day they die.

The appellate court judges said that the ankle monitor is only visible when the wearer's pants hike up upon sitting down. Belleau's reasoning that the violation of privacy he suffers whenever someone spots the anklet is against the Fourth Amendment didn't fly with the judges either. They explained that the "Fourth Amendment does not mention privacy or create any right of privacy." Further, they said that removing the anklet will only have a slight effect on his privacy anyway, since as a registered sex offender, his criminal records and home address are available online.

"[I]t's not as if the Department of Corrections were following the plaintiff around," the court said, defending the use of GPS monitors. Officials don't monitor sex offenders' every move, but they do look at where they've gone every night, so the police can be alerted if they're in a place where someone was sexually assaulted.

Bottom line is that the court believes GPS monitors can help prevent sex offenders from committing the same crimes again, as proven by what it wrote in the document Ars posted:

It's untrue that 'the GPS device burdens liberty by its continuous surveillance of the offender's activities. [It] just identifies locations; it doesn't reveal what the wearer of the device is doing at any of the locations. And its 'burden' must in any event be balanced against the gain to society from requiring that the anklet monitor be worn. It is because of the need for such balancing that persons convicted of crimes, especially very serious crimes such as sexual offenses against minors, and especially very serious crimes that have high rates of recidivism such as sex crimes, have a diminished reasonable constitutionally protected expectation of privacy.

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