The state Senate Public Safety Committee passed SB 57 on Tuesday which, if signed into law, will send convicted sex offenders back to prison for repeatedly removing their GPS tracking devices. The bill, authored by Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), was amended to work with Governor Brown’s prison realignment plan.
In an effort to work with realignment efforts, the proposed law now requires a mandatory sentence of 180 days in county jail for first time offenses. Currently, this is the maximum sentence on the books for gps-tampering and related offenses.
Parolees who remove their tacking device a second time would be sent to county jail for a year and third-time offenders would return to state prison. The law would only apply to the roughly 8,000 parolees who are required to wear electronic monitors and does not apply to convicted offenders state and local agencies may be tracking without the help of GPS devices.
“Too many convicted sex offenders are cutting off their GPS monitoring devices because they’re convinced little will happen to them, and that must change to make our streets safer,” Lieu said after his bill passed its first legislative hurdle. “By increasing punishment for this crime, we hope these sex offenders will have second thoughts about roaming freely among the public with zero oversight.”
With the Thursday deadline for state officials to submit a plan to remove approximately 9,000 inmates from state prisons quickly approaching, Democratic lawmakers want to make sure nothing hinders prison realignment efforts.
A bill introduced in the state Assembly that would require mandatory prison time for parolees who tamper with their GPS devices was killed in the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), author of the legislation, criticized committee members who voted against it and said they “now bear the responsibility of the carnage to come.”
A Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered an increase in parolees tampering with electronic monitoring systems after Brown released his 2011 prison realignment plan.
The plan reduced the state prison population by an estimated 20,000 inmates by making lower-level felonies and parole violations the responsibility of counties. Unfortunately, some counties were unable to fit parole violators in their jails and set them free. This has resulted in an increase in GPS-tampering.
SB 57 was introduced back in January. The bill now moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.