Crime & Justice

State Senator Ted Lieu alleges rise in parolees cutting off GPS monitors

Inmates at Chino State Prison.
Inmates at Chino State Prison.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) is alleging that a growing number of parolees in California are cutting off their GPS monitoring devices. 

A state database lists more than 800 parolees who are supposed to be on GPS monitoring, but aren’t. Nearly a third are from L.A. County. Some of them never showed up to get their monitors. Others did report to their parole officer and had the monitor attached to their leg, but then cut it off and disappeared.

Lieu says one problem is that there are few consequences for parolees who cut off the GPS device.

"It is not a crime, it is a parole violation, and you will get up to 180 days in county jail," Lieu said. He notes: "when you count in the overcrowded county jails and good time, sometimes they don’t serve any time or sometimes it’s just a few days.”

Under California’s realignment policy, most parole violations are no longer punished with prison time, to avoid overcrowding. But Senator Lieu wants to change the law in this case. He plans to introduce legislation next month to make it a felony to cut off a GPS monitor. Lieu says the threat of serious prison time would be a powerful deterrent.  

Officials with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation say they cannot verify whether there has been a jump in the number of parolees cutting off their GPS monitors. Up until now, the state has not tracked that statistic.

Prison officials say they will look into Senator Lieu’s claim.