CA: GPS Tampering Bill Given the Green Light by First Legislative Committee

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A bill that would punish those sex offenders found frequently removing their GPS tracking devices by sending them back to state prison jumped its first hurdle, passing the first legislative committee in late April.


Democratic leaders operating with Governor Brown’s prison realignment plan in mind passed the bill after the GPS tampering bill was amended to make first offenses punishable by serving 180 days in county jail.


What if there is a second offense? This would land a criminal in county jail for a year. If they still don’t learn their lesson, a third offense sends the parolee right back to prison. This would affect a portion of California’s 8,000 paroled sex offenders who are forced to wear a GPS tracking ankle bracelet. Domestic stalking, gang activity, and other parolees are not affected.


“To me this is not an issue that deals with realignment. It deals with the integrity of our GPS monitoring system,” said Sen. Ted Lieu to the Senate Public Safety Committee right before voting on the bill. He pointed to a federally funded study that demonstrates sex offenders monitored by GPS device are not as likely to commit another crime while on parole.


Law enforcement agencies support the amended measure, while public defenders are still deciding where they stand.


A federal court order has asked California to reduce the numbers held in state prisons. Gov. Brown must figure out a way to remove 9,000 inmates from the system. His realignment plan addresses this issue, cutting the prison population by over 20,000 and assigning those committing lower-level felonies to county jail, as well as having counties deal with parole violations. Some counties weren’t able to comply as space in their jails were just as tight, letting them loose into the general population and resulting in the removal of GPS tracking anklets they were ordered to wear.


Just how many are tampering with their GPS devices? The LA Times asked for this number from CA state corrections officials, and found that over 4,900 warrants were filed against paroled sex offenders for the act of disabling their GPS devices in the first 15 months after the realignment plan was put in place.

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Khristen Foss

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