Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cat Trax – Godsend for parents?

A couple of the local evening news programs have highlighted a service that will be available soon. Cat Trax is a company who will set up a gps enabled cell phone to track where your children are. The phone will alert the parents when the child gets close to a registered sex offenders residence. The service is to become available in Utah in June at a cost of about $20 per month.

One newscast showed a civil rights attorney who says it is legal (since they are using legal information), but is invasive. I can see where there could be some privacy issues.

A close neighbor to a registered sex offender or someone who has moved into a residence that an offender has moved out of could be ostracized or even victimized by vigilante types who are over protective.

Here are some counterpoints to the comments that have been posted so far:
Even though we all have heard stories of people who are on the registry that should not be, don’t you suppose that the vast majority of those on the registry belong there? They have committed serious crimes and statistically will become repeat offenders. Our society has dictated that part of their punishment is a loss of privacy. That is a harsh punishment, but those are harsh crimes. Is it in the best good of the most people – remember Utilitarianism?

As for the guy whose underage ex-girlfriend turned him in – remember, she was underage and isn’t it a crime to have sexual relations with an underage person? It’s still a crime even if they think they are consenting. And conviction of a crime must be met with justice and punishment.

Let’s carry things one step further. Rather than gps cell phones that tell you where your children are, maybe we should force the sex offenders to wear radio anklets (like prisoners). Since they don’t always stay in their homes (they have jobs, go shopping, etc). Punishment too harsh? Unnecessary? Do we not care that our kids could be in close contact with them?


ben said...

Whatever happened to parenting? We are working really hard at making it easier to be a parent without actually having to leave the house or work.

I'm a college student, obviosuly, and not a parent so maybe I don't understand parenting. But it seems that actually being a parent these days is something that most people with kids refuse to do. The little bastards who keep hitting my car with metal rods never get in trouble, no matter how many times I call the cops on them.

The phone thing is a cool idea. All that it means is active pedophines who are registered will now take children to hotels and other locations. I think that what some of them do is terrible, the whole herd shouldn't be punished.

Nancy Williams said...

Cell phones have changed the world, people.

Kids with their own cell phone are complete out of earshot (and control) of their parents -- think about that for a minute.

There's no extension to listen in on, there's no base unit to be 100-ft away from. Until the bill comes in a month down the road (at least), there's no record of who you call or who calls you.

A 10-year-old with a cell phone has the autonomy of an adult.

smokey said...

I’ve flopped around a bit on this topic and have another item to interject. April 18, 2006 Herald Journal has an article on the national news page: “Slaying of two Maine sex offenders raises vigilante justice fears.” A link to another article:
This article, which is different from the HJ/AP article, indicates that there have been other similar incidents around the nation and speaks more about the ethics of the registries.

I will re-state that these peoples’ crimes require a loss of their rights, but how far do we go with it if endangers more lives – the offenders themselves, the person who commits the vigilante crime, his family, etc.

I read somewhere tonight (but, sorry, I can’t find the article) where the brother of a sex offender was targeted by mistake.

As was suggested by others on the blog, maybe the status of an offender should be listed with their name. Perhaps they can be scored as to severity and repetition of the crimes.

bekah said...

The cell phone service doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Just like it says, the service would be perfectly legal since the residence of a sex offender is already public. For the parents giving their young children cells in the first place, the service may keep them a little at ease or make them think they are protecting their kids more.

However, any sense of protection would be false. Sex offenders move around; they could find children or whoever all over the place, within blocks of or miles away from their residence. Plus, it's not like every sex offender has been caught or has even offended yet. There are always possibilities of violations in neighborhoods that seem perfectly safe. The parents shouldn't think their children are any more protected with the phone service.

I also agree very much with Ben. It's cool or whatever for kids to have cell phones I guess, but I say the parents should know where there kids are at all times regardless of if they have the ability to reach them quickly on the phone. Before kids can drive, it's not like they should be running around in random neighborhoods. You'd think that parents would supervise them or at least be aware of where they are. I don't think there's any reasonable fit between the phone service and protection from sex offenders.

teacup said...

The Cat Trax system is more like a nightmare for parents! There are so many sex offenders out there today that the phone would be beeping like crazy and alerting parents all day long. Talk about edgy jumpy parents! It would be o constant ongoing thing. When the kids are walking home from the bus stop, riding their bikes up to the mall, delivering newspapers on the paper route, etc. It's a good idea to know where the kids are but they could also be near a convicted drug dealer or a paroled murderer for that matter or in any other sort of dangerous position. The kids need to be informed of danger and then with that education take every precaution to remain safe. (I like the ankle transmitter device idea)