GPS tracking devices have been used for some time to monitor sex offenders after their release from prison. Due to recent legislation changes in California, there has been an increased incidence of parolees tampering with their GPS tracking devices. As a result, a law has been proposed that would classify disabling these units as a felony.
Since 2006, sex offenders in California have been required to wear GPS tracking bracelets after their release from prison. This is due to a piece of legislation known as Jessica’s Law. A portion of these parolees attempt to break their parole by disabling or removing their tracking device. This offense is punishable by a six-month prison sentence.
Because of overcrowding in the state prison system, a prison realignment law was recently passed. Under this legislation, low-level offenders will serve their prison sentences in county jails rather than state prisons. Low-level offenders are those convicted of a non-sexual or non-violent crime. Since tampering with a GPS device falls into this category, offenders that are caught will serve their sentence in a county prison. County prisons have themselves become overcrowded since this new process was put in place; therefore many individuals are released early and are not required to serve the entire six months. As a result, the number of paroled sex offenders disabling their GPS monitoring device is on the rise. Some reports indicate that there may be as much as a 28 percent increase over the period prior to the prison realignment law.
A Potential Solution
In an attempt to address this problem, California State Senator Ted Lieu has introduced a new piece of legislation. Under his bill, referred to as SB57, disabling or removing a GPS tracking device would be classified as a felony and would result in a prison sentence of up to three years. There is some opposition to the bill due to fears that it will only worsen the overcrowding of the prison system. Proponents of the legislation, however, argue that the protection of the public from unmonitored sex offenders is worth solving the problems in the prison system. If this bill is successfully, passed, it is expected that there will be a definite drop in tampering with GPS tracking devices.