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Matthew Becker

My name is Matthew Becker, I will wear a GPS tracking bracelet until the day that I die. I have made some very poor choices in my past, none that I am proud of.  I cannot change the past, but I can change who I am and I can make a better place for others in my situation moving forward.

I was convicted in 2005 and 2006, both for 3rd degree sexual assault.  As a result of my crimes, I was sentenced to 4 years in the Wisconsin Prison System.  In 2010 I was released from the Wisconsin Prison system to start my 5 years of Extended Supervision, currently I am in the 5th and final year, scheduled to be discharged from supervision in July of 2015.

Due to the retroactive application of state statue 301.48 that was implemented in 2008 I will be on an ankle monitor GPS bracelet for life. I was never sentenced in a court of law to lifetime GPS.  I have never been placed in front of a judge to have them decide whether I should be on it and I am prohibited by law able to challenge my placement into this program with the Department of Corrections. Four plus years after my release and I still do not understand what part of the state statue covers the reason I should be in this program.

In the first three years after my release I was taken into custody 11 times for mistakes or technical issues with the GPS equipment.  The first of these incarcerations was just 9 days after release from prison.  Every time that I am taken into custody it is expensive to the taxpayers of Wisconsin.  After considering the costs of issuing a warrant, having law enforcement take me into custody and transport me to the county jail.  Then there is the time it takes an agent to investigate the issue and gain approval for my release and having a technician come out and reset equipment. It is a very costly and staff intensive process to be taken into custody over continually being placed into custody for false alarms.

With all of the issues that I have had and the missed work due to incarcerations, I am one of the few that have been able to maintain full-time employment.  I have an awesome boss that has been willing to work with me for over three years now.  Even through all the issues, I have been able to move up within the company, to my current position a manager of the department I work in. This has also made it possible to maintain stable housing as I have been able to keep a steady job and be able to continually pay rent. There are so many of my friends in the same situation that struggle in both of these avenues due to the continued incarcerations.  

Over the last year and a half I have also started my own business, an LLC, in my free time.  I buy and sell antiques and collectibles. I started this business with nothing and am currently selling in two antique malls and have been doing very well selling on eBay. It is really cool to find something that I really like and am fairly good at, and be able to be effective even with the scarlet letter that I carry around of being a sex offender and dealing with the GPS.

The constant fear of incarcerations are the norm for my life and have impacted almost every aspect of my life. I am constantly in fear, even when I know I have done nothing wrong, I am always in fear if law enforcement showing up to take me into custody. 

For example: 

Example #1: I was taken into custody twice in the same week, both due to equipment failures. The first time was a Sunday afternoon, I went inline skating with my mother, and upon returning to my residence there were two officers that showed up and took me into custody, and I was released by my agent on Monday. The following Wednesday I “lost signal” while on my way to treatment and upon my return to my residence several hours later law enforcement come to my house and took me into custody. I was continually blamed for tampering with my equipment by DOC. Soon after this there was more issues with many more offenders’ state wide with many offenders. 

Example #2:  Recently I requested to go to a friend’s antique store in Minnesota. I worked with my agent for about a month to get everything approved. My agent obtained a travel permit to allow me to travel out of state, sent it to the Department of Corrections and updated my GPS schedule to allow me plenty of time to return home after returning to Wisconsin. I left for a day trip to Minnesota with a friend on June 28th, travel permit in hand. Drove the 5 hours to Minnesota went to visit my friends store and spent some time buying antiques from a few stores in town before getting a bite to eat and heading back home. My travel permit allowed me to be in Minnesota until 12:30am on June 29th, at which time I had to be back across the border in Wisconsin. As I had completed my business in Minnesota early, we decided to head back early. I reentered the state of Wisconsin at 8:10pm when I crossed in to Hudson Wisconsin, more than 4 hours before I was required to. I returned to my residence at 1:15 am on June 29th. Shortly after my return I had 2 officers knock on my door and take me in to custody.  The following day my agent came to get me released and get by bracelet reset. I was told at this time that Department of Corrections monitoring center lost my travel permit and GPS schedule. This was later confirmed through an open records request. Since then the person that I traveled with has pushed for more answers. She emailed Department of Corrections Administrator Edward Wall twice with no response over a 3 week period. She then emailed him again and copied the Governors’ office on the email and finally received a response. In a letter dated August 12th written by assistant administrator she was told that I was taken into custody due to not being at my residence at midnight on the 28th of June and that this incident was under review. To date, there has been no information provided to know where the human error was made or what is being done to correct this issue. I still do not know how I was supposed to be home by Midnight on the 28th of June when I was not required to be back in the state of Wisconsin at 12:30 am on the 29th. I have so many questions, and answers have been very slow to come. All I can see in this and many other issues when it comes to GPS is the Department of Corrections has a “lock'em up and ask questions later", philosophy. 

These issues are just a scratch on the surface when it comes to issues with GPS monitoring in Wisconsin. There will be a whole new set of issues when I discharge next year from supervision and I am still required to wear the GPS bracelet. The Department of Corrections is still required to maintain tracking on my, but that is the extent of their authority after I discharge. How will I get issues corrected is just one of many questions that nobody I have asked has been able to answer. 

After all is said and done… these bracelets do nothing to protect the community, it only aids in the future prosecution for a possible crime. It is very expensive and fault ridden program that needs to be reviewed and re-evaluated. 

I am not the same person I was 10 years ago when I was making poor choices, and as it stands now I will be stuck to this bracelet for a very long time at the tax payers’ expense. When is it economically feasible that we take a look at risk factors and the need for this type of equipment?