MILWAUKEE (AP) — A federal appeals court is considering a challenge to a Wisconsin law requiring lifetime GPS monitoring for some convicted sex offenders.
The state is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in Milwaukee that the ankle bracelet requirement violates the constitutional rights of 72-year-old Michael Belleau, who spent 15 years in prison for child sexual assaults committed in the 1980s. He was then civilly committed to Sandridge Secure Treatment Center as a sexually violent person, and sued the state after his 2010 release.
Belleau’s lawyers argue the GPS requirement amounts to retroactive punishment. His American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Larry Dupuis, said the law ignores the actual risk that an offender will commit a new crime.
The state argues the requirement is not a punishment but a regulation to monitor offenders’ movements, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Assistant Attorney General Anthony Russomanno told appellate judges the lifetime requirement applies to a small subset of offenders and is meant to deter future crimes.
Dupuis argued that the GPS requirement should only affect offenders committed for crimes that happened after 2006, when the law that included the requirement was passed. But the state said an offender’s release date triggers the requirement, not when they’re convicted.
Under the law, sex offenders who complete prison terms can apply to end GPS monitoring after 20 years, the Journal Sentinel reported. But those whose prison terms are followed by civil commitment cannot get rid of the bracelet under the law.
According to Dupuis, about 200 other sex offenders would be affected by the appeals court’s ruling.