In Park v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court evaluated whether persons convicted of sexual offenses and subsequently classified as "sexually dangerous predator[s]" may be required to wear Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices after serving their full sentences, including fulfilling probation or parole requirements. The court held that, under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, such a requirement is invalid because it infringes on the right free people have against unreasonable searches and seizures executed by the state—no matter the crimes for which they were convicted or their status as registered sex offenders. However, the court made clear that this holding only applies to individuals who have served their full sentences—nothing in the majority opinion indicated that individuals on probation or parole may not be subjected to long‑term (or even lifelong) tracking requirements, and the concurring opinion specifically endorsed that punishment.
The holding in this case is significant for three primary reasons. First, the court ruled that O.C.G.A. § 42‑1‑14(e) is unconstitutional to the extent that it permits tracking individuals who have already served their sentences. Through this holding, the court drew a line in the sand over which the state cannot step to continue punishing persons who have finished their official sentences, ensuring that even those convicted of the most serious offenses are entitled to constitutional protections. Second, through Park, the state of Georgia joined a national discussion of Fourth Amendment protections regarding the long‑term GPS tracking of people at various stages of parole, probation, and freedom. Finally, despite these developments, the majority opinion implies, and the concurrence assures, that the General Assembly is welcome to make minor changes to O.C.G.A. § 42‑1‑14(e) to ensure the constitutionality of what amounts to the same form of punishment under a different name.
Rachel Ness-Maddox, Casenote, The Probationer, the Free Man, and the Fourth Amendment: Constitutional Protections for Those Who Have Served Their Sentences and Those Who Have Not, 71 Mercer L. Rev. 1247.