The State Senate today unanimously approved legislation by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) that would crack down on convicted sex offenders who remove or disable their GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking devices.
“I am delighted that both Democrats and Republicans approved my bill to crack down on the worst sex offenders who tamper with their GPS devices,” said Bates. “Preventing senseless tragedies in our communities is not a partisan issue and I hope our Assembly colleagues will agree and send my bill to Governor Brown’s desk this year.”
SB 722 would address the increasing number of high-risk sex offender parolees who willfully remove or disable their GPS devices. According to the State Board of Parole Hearings, “the number of new GPS violation charges for sex offender parolees initiated prior to serving time in custody – in other words, new charges that occurred when they should have been serving time for an earlier violation – has increased after realignment from 99 cases in the 15 months prior to realignment to 495 cases in the 15 months following the start date of realignment.”
A killing spree in Orange County that left at least four women dead demonstrated the need for tighter penalties for removal of a GPS device. In 2012, two men on release from state prison for prior convictions of child molestation cut off their state-mandated GPS ankle bracelets and left California on a bus. By the time police caught up to the pair, the penalty they received for removing the devices was minor. One was sentenced to ten months in prison and the other received just eight months. After their release, four women were found dead and the two men were arrested for the murders they committed.
SB 722 would apply to sex offenders convicted of the most egregious sex crimes, including rape, spousal rape, and continuous sexual abuse of a child. It is supported by groups and individuals such as the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California District Attorneys Association, Crime Victims United of California, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
SB 722 will now go to the State Assembly for its consideration.