Bill Passed to Discourage Sex Offenders from Removing GPS Trackers

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It’s not uncommon for criminals released from prison to violate their terms of parole by skipping out on meetings with their law enforcement officer or cutting off their GPS tracked ankle bracelet. Some have been known to go so far as to simply drain the battery on their monitoring device. Apparently, the trend has become alarmingly frequent–particularly in California where a cited statistic of over four thousand criminals were found to have cut off their monitoring anklet. In response, California legislature has passed the SB57 bill, which will significantly stiffen the punishment specifically for sex offenders for violation of parole requirements to wear the GPS tracking device.

The upswing in such violations follows on the heels of a change in policy in California over low-risk offenders because of state prison congestion. When California law decided that county law enforcement should handle imprisoning and release from jail certain classes of minor violation state criminals, overpopulation of the county prisons forced their jails to release some offenders before they had served their full sentences–a bad message to send to individuals that law enforcement would not take their crimes seriously or follow up on fulfilling their sentence.

SB57 will hopefully provide law enforcement with the proper procedures to deal with sex criminals who have cut off their GPS tracking devices. The law consists of a graduated list of punitive action for first-time and repeat violators. For first-timers, breaking the requirement of wearing an ankle monitor is punishable by 180 days in prison at the county level, the second time an entire year. For those guilty of a third instance, the act is considered a felony and would land the offender in state prison for as many as three years.

Coupled with the GPS monitoring of sex offenders released on parole is the provision of added treatment in the form of mental health facilities. Supporters of these measures hope that offering treatment will better integrate individuals back into society and keep them from reverting into their former criminal mindset. With stiffer penalties for violating parole requirements (including electronic tracking), California legislators are determined to keep that statistic from creeping higher and perhaps instead see it come down.

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Claire Richards

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