Two parole officers are warning Iowa lawmakers that the state is supervising too many sex offenders with too few people, and the heavy workload may be drawing their attention away from the worst of the worst. Parole officers Jerri Allen and Dudley Allison, both of Iowa City, testified before a panel of House and Senate members that’s considering changes to Iowa’s sex offender laws. Currently, every sex offender whose victim was under the age of 17 is fitted with a GPS tracking bracelet when they’re paroled.
Allison says some of those offenders may not need such intense supervision. "We have risk assessments. We come to know that maybe this person really did have one victim or maybe he was dating a girl who was too young…shouldn’t have been doing it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s dangerous across the board to other minors or certainly to young minors, which I think is the concern to most people," Allison says.
Allison told lawmakers that probation and parole officers need more latitude in deciding which paroled sex offenders should be monitored 24-hours-a-day with one of those GPS units, and who should be ordered to live at least two-thousand feet away from a school or daycare.
Jerri Allen agrees."I think what we would like to see is that GPS technology, because it’s expensive, is applied to the most serious offenders that are in our communities as opposed to all of the offenders because it is very costly," she says. "What’s happening is our time is spread thin and so we’re having to deal with all of the issues on even lower-risk offenders as we deal with the higher-risk and our attention may be diverted if we’re so consumed with that."