California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) is working on legislation intended to decrease the number of parolees who avoid GPS monitoring. Lieu alleges that parolees cut off their GPS tracking devices, and that the lax punishment for doing so is encouraging more disobedience.
Although the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not track the number of parolees cutting off their GPS monitors, Lieu claims the number has gone up in recent years – the state database currently lists 800 parolees who are supposed to be monitored, but aren’t.
Senator Lieu says that because there are too few consequences for parole violation, parolees who cut off their tracking devices are supposed to be sent back to prison for 180 days, but due to overcrowding, they are often released again right away. Lieu advocates changes to the policy regarding GPS monitors – if his legislation passes, it would make cutting off the device a felony.
Would Lieu’s proposed law deter parolees who consider breaking loose from their GPS bracelets? Should parole violation be considered a felony? How would this law affect rehabilitation for California parolees? Should parolees be tracked at all?
Frank Stoltze, KPCC reporter
Celeste Fremon, Editor of WitnessLA.com; Senior fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism