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WA - Mandatory microchip implants for criminals

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would outfit sex offenders with a surgically-implanted device that tracks their movement.

The devices would replace the ankle bracelets that are currently used to track offenders. The bracelets have been criticized as a lacking device as offenders have successfully removed them in the past before disappearing off of the radar.

"(The devices would) be a little more difficult to take off," said Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds.

Chase is among a handful of lawmakers are looking into radio chips that can be planted under the skin. Some of the designs are no larger than a grain of rice.

The radio chips would allow police to track an offender from a sex offender using the same technology used at the Tacoma Narrows bridge toll.

"Right now, we get a postcard at home every few weeks saying we have a sex offender moving into the neighborhood. But unless you know where they live and what they look like how are you going to have protection?" said Chase.

The Department of Corrections admits even with the current devices, officers often lose signal. DOC officials also note that no tracking device can prevent crime.

"It certainly is not prevention. It certainly is not 100-percent," said Anna Aylward with the state DOC.

The bill is currently in committee.

If passed, the bill would allow the state to hire the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to determine whether chip implants would be more effective.

Similar technology is used to track criminals in the U.K. and school children in Japan.