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A judge's gavel

NC court ruling against sex offender tracking devices draws mixed reactions

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By Darren Botelho

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — North Carolina sex offenders may no longer have to wear tracking devices for decades.

According to a ruling from the second highest court in the state, there was no proof that wearing them protects the public.

"I think it's very effective to have some kind of electronic device on these type of people," Asheville parent Larry Williams said.

As a protective parent, Williams disagreed with the latest North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling.

"You will always have that syndrome,” Williams said. “You will always have that pedophilia inside of you. So, to protect our children, we must do the necessary steps."

A divided three-judge panel said the monitoring devices, worn for decades, violated the U.S. Constitution's bar against unreasonable searches and had no evidence of being effective.

"We've never experienced any safety problems or issues," said the Rev. Scott Rogers, who sometimes works with sex offenders.

Rogers, executive director of Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, heads up homeless shelters and crisis centers in the mountains, .

"I partly understand why the court would do something like this, because we never saw bracelets,” Rogers said. “They were usually covered up under pant legs or something like that."

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He said covered or not covered — device or no device — they were still on the sex offender registry and his trained staff and volunteers can easily identify them.

"They don't want to be in a position where they're breaking the law,” Rogers said. “They have the most to lose. They're going to lose their freedom, they're going to possibly go back to jail, they're going to have a violation and they don't want any violations either."

Sonja Bennett-Bellamy, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, said no changes were made as of Wednesday, and officials there were still talking with state Attorney General Josh Stein about the next steps after the ruling.

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