By Dave . . . In March 2019, a federal class-action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by attorneys Adele Nicholas and Mark Weinberg on behalf of eight people on the registry living in Wisconsin. The suit was a response to a 2017 opinion by then Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel to expand the class of Wisconsin registrants required to wear GPS tracking devices for life.
Individuals convicted of sex offenses on two or more separate occasions were already subject to lifetime GPS monitoring. However, in 2017, Schimel re-interpreted the law to include anyone convicted of more than one count — even if the charges stemmed from only one occasion.
In December 2019, the U.S. District Court dismissed the suit and denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the GPS monitoring. Three of the plaintiffs immediately appealed to the 7th Circuit.
Finally, in September 2020, oral arguments were presented to a panel of 7th Circuit judges. Among other things, plaintiffs’ counsel spoke of the extreme intrusiveness of GPS and that it was imposed after the plaintiffs’ sentences were completed. Also, the State conceded it did not have data to support that the GPS technology served its intended purpose: to reduce future crimes.
What happens next? We wait.
There is no deadline for the 7th Circuit to make its decision. In the meantime, nothing has changed. Plaintiffs — and everyone else affected — still have to abide by the re-interpretation of the “separate occasions” statute.
NARSOL will report more on this as soon as a decision is announced.