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Ohio pol would chip parolees with GPS

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Small-town meanness and technological illiteracy have come together in Ohio, where Butler County Commissioner Michael Fox believes that GPS "microchips" should be implanted in former convicts on parole and probation, so that they can be monitored remotely, and denied opportunities for rehabilitation more effectively.

"People have these GPS chips put in their pets and - in some cases - in their children, in the event they are lost or kidnapped," local newspaper the Journal News quotes Fox as saying. "I don't see why the same can't be done with probationees."

Fox has apparently made a muddle of various news reports covering, separately, the VeriChip, RFID badges for school children, and GPS. Obviously, there is no such thing as a GPS transceiver that can be implanted with a hypodermic needle as a tiny microchip. Such a gizmo would be as big as a pacemaker, and would have to be implanted surgically.

But the delusion that "high technology" can solve all of mankind's problems with a tiny, "intelligent" gizmo, is a widespread and enduring one. It's no surprise that Fox got confused in his eagerness to pander to draconian law-and-order voters in his red state Valhalla.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones proved to be somewhat more realistic about the technology, if meaner. He would "support the type of electronic monitoring that delivers an electrical shock to an offender if he or she is doing something in violation of probation," the Journal News reports.

"No type of electronic monitoring will keep an offender from committing another crime," he observed with refreshing technological realism. "Electronic monitoring doesn't stop them from moving around the community; it just lets you see where they were when a crime was committed," he lamented.

So the good sheriff, unlike his addle-brained politician counterpart, does grasp the practical limits of extreme hi-tech cruelty; it's only a pity that he's less acquainted with the Eighth Amendment.

Perhaps a pacemaker that he could disable remotely would suit him, and the wise voters of Ohio, even better than a hi-tech shock collar. ®

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