You’ve heard the stories: criminal gets caught, goes to jail, and is released early with the understanding that he or she must be monitored at all times with a GPS tracking ankle bracelet. Sounds easy enough, but apparently this is just too much for some criminals. They find a way to remove the GPS device, cutting it off and violating their parole conditions, which in California lands you in the county jail. Lawmakers in the Golden State are looking to make removing or tampering with a GPS monitoring device a little more threatening by sending the offender to prison rather than county.
The “spot” bill was filed in early January by Senator Ted Lieu, with proper language to be added at a later date to turn the crime of cutting off a GPS tracking bracelet into a felony. Lieu pointed out that this act is occurring more often, mainly “because they’re convinced little will happen to them.”
As laid out in California’s prison realignment program, anyone who violates the terms of their parole ends up in county jails rather than prisons. What’s more: if the jails are full, they are more likely to be released early, and are often the first to be considered when trying to make space for more serious offenders. “Cutting off an ankle bracelet is a parole violation, which can incur 180 days in county jail. When you count in the overcrowded county jails and other factors, sometimes they don’t serve any time, or sometimes just a few days,” Lieu said.
According to Lieu, state corrections officials recorded 173 parolees who cut off their GPS monitoring bracelets during the period from October 2010 to September 2011. With the prison realignment, the number skyrocketed to just under 300 violations.
Ultimately, the goal is to assure these parolees don’t cause any harm to the public while being monitored, especially the sex offenders. “By making this crime a new felony, we can only hope these former prisoners, most of them either convicted sex offenders or hard-core gang members, will have second thoughts to roaming freely among the public with zero oversight,” said Lieu.
Senotor Michael Rubio is a co-sponsor of the bill SB 57. The initial policy hearing regarding the bill is not yet scheduled at this time.