After a local Sacramento news station investigated instances where parolees either tampered with their GPS monitoring devices or refused to wear them altogether, Senator Ted Lieu has launched a campaign to craft legislation making it a felony to do so.
California put into effect a prison realignment plan in October 2011, and it states that any parolee caught without their GPS tracking bracelets will do county jail time rather than in the state prison. According to Jeffrey Callison, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s press secretary, “It’s not considered a new crime that sends you back to prison.”
KCRA interviewed Donna Munoz whose daughter, Brandy Arreola, was unfortunate proof this policy needs to be reassessed. Arreola was attacked in April, beaten and left for dead, and spent six months in a coma in the hospital.
Raoul Leyva was accused of the crime. He had recently served a prison sentence for assault, drug use, and vehicle theft, told he must wear a GPS tracking bracelet upon his release. However, he did not comply and was re-arrested last March. This led to an 18 day county jail stay, and only days after being released, he attacked Arreola. After that, he was right back where he started, awaiting trial for six felony charges at the San Joaquin County Jail. One of the six charges against him: attempted murder.
Munoz wonders, “Why is he still walking? This wouldn’t have happened to my daughter today if they had kept him behind bars.” Maria Hawk, parole agent, agrees. “He was a pretty bad individual. In our eyes, it’s a failure.”
Assembly Bill 109, the prison realignment plan, was intended to cut down the population of the state prison by leaving counties in charge of managing parolees. Hawk was told by superiors not to talk to any reporters chose to defy these orders because in her opinion, there is an unacceptable number of dangerous criminals back on the streets after their release from state prison.
“Prior to AB 109, Mr. Levya would have been in prison for a parole violation,” said Hawk. “He would have done, like I said, anywhere from three months to a year flat, prior to the crime he committed against his victim.”
Senator: No Change Necessary
Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco continues to support the realignment plan. “If someone is not incarcerated and is on parole with a GPS device, that device is a condition of their parole,” he said. “If they tamper with it, that is a violation of parole, and they are at risk of being taken into custody and taken back into incarceration.”
Leno said that nothing needs to change in regards to making the refusal to wear a GPS device or tampering with it a felony. “It’s already a condition of their parole. So, they will immediately be incarcerated once they are caught if they have tampered with their GPS device, and that’s how it should be.”
Leyva pleaded not guilty to all of the six felony charges against him.