SACRAMENTO — Tiny green dots on a computer screen traced the route that a sex offender traveled from Sacramento to the Bay Area.
Allan Thomas, a senior deputy probation officer for Sacramento County, clicked on a dot over Fairfield. A box popped up, detailing the man's location and the time he was there.
Of the 740 sex offenders on probation in Sacramento County, including 240 who are considered "high-risk," eight of them wear a Global Positioning System device.
Each morning, Thomas spends up to two hours tracking their whereabouts over the preceding 24 hours.
In February, he discovered that an offender convicted of grabbing a young boy from underneath a bathroom stall to sexually assault him was lingering in a Carmichael library with a school across the street.
"Those are the kind of people we supervise," said Todd Winfrey, supervising probation officer for the department's sex offender unit.
But the majority of the sex offenders – about 500 of them – go unsupervised, meaning probation officers do not visit them regularly.
Chief Probation Officer Don Meyer fears that number could grow as his department faces $26 million in potential cuts as the county seeks to erase a budget deficit that has grown to $166.5 million for the coming fiscal year.
Thomas' position, for example, is one of five in the sex offender unit funded by county coffers and is at risk of being eliminated.
"One thing I've learned about these guys is, if they go unsupervised, they have a high rate of reoffending" Deputy Probation Officer Claude Noble said.
Noble, who has supervised sex offenders for seven years, is one of two probation officers on the Sacramento Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) team. He said he remembers when the county had about 400 sex offenders on probation and only 150 went unsupervised.
Noble's position is funded by federal stimulus money, which runs out in September.
Read the full story at sacbee.com