Monday, November 12, 2012

AUSTRALIA - GPS plan to track arsonists

Original Article

Like we've said many times, the sex offender registry is just the "test bed" for eradicating people's rights and putting them on an online shaming list, more registries will follow, and this is yet another example, but, if an online shaming hit-list is okay for one group, then to be fair, it should be done to all criminals.


By Farrah Tomazin

Convicted arsonists will be monitored using GPS tracking devices for the first time in Australia under a state government push to crack down on firebugs.

Legislation will be drafted early next year, allowing courts to order post-release monitoring for people caught deliberately lighting dangerous fires - a provision that is restricted to serious sex offenders.

This would mean that, once the system is operating, an offender released from jail would be fitted with an electronic monitoring device, alerting authorities if they get close to a designated exclusion zone, such as a forest or national park.

But despite months of planning and trials, the government admits the system won't be ready for this fire season, because it is still attempting to appoint a company to develop the technology required to track offenders over large distances.

The government says there are about five offenders in the Victorian corrections system who could be subject to electronic monitoring in future.

But as the state prepares for another hot summer, some are questioning why the project - which was put out to tender months ago - is taking so long.

Some experts have also questioned the policy, warning that the number of arsonists who are actually caught represents a very small proportion of people who deliberately light fires.

''They may as well be playing darts in the dark,'' said Paul Read, a research fellow at Monash University's Sustainability Institute. ''It's a very bold and brave precedent, but if they're serious about it, they should trial it first to find how much impact the policy would have.'' Figures from the Sentencing Advisory Council show that between 2005 and 2010, 140 people were sentenced for arson in Victoria, of which 56 went to jail.

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