In California, convicted sex offenders out on parole are required to wear a GPS tracking device around their ankle. The device tracks the parolee’s location. If the wearer goes into a restricted area, such as a school or liquor store, an alert is sent to the offender’s parole officer. If the device is tampered with or cut off, an alert is sent to the offender’s parole officer.
For sex offender parolees at-large, the State’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation updates a website daily, listing all their names. All the people listed are actively being sought.
According to a letter received by a state auditor, “150 paroled sex offenders have disabled their GPS anklets and could be living with minors or near schools and parks.”
Since cutting off a GPS tracking device is not a felony, if an offender does it, s/he do not get sent to prison. Instead, the person may get sentenced for up to 180 days in county jail, depending on the county.
“If you’re in Fresno County, if you’re in Stanislaus County, they aren’t taking parole violators, because of overcrowding,” said Lynn Brown, a victims’ advocate from Advocates for Public Safety.
Corrections Parole reports show that because of overcrowding, sex offenders in Fresno County who violate parole and are caught are not locked up in the Fresno jail.
Some victims’ advocate groups and parole officers are now considering lobbying to make cutting off a GPS tracking device a felony. A felony conviction could result in prison time.
As you may recall, the U.S. Supreme Court touted that California’s prison system was extremely overcrowded, leading to unsafe prison conditions. In response, rather than releasing inmates onto the streets, the State implemented a realignment plan. Realignment “shifts responsibility from the state to counties for the custody, treatment, and supervision of individuals convicted of specified nonviolent, non-serious, non-sex crimes.”