TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Fred H. Madden that would create a two-year pilot program which would use satellite-based tracking to keep track of convicted sex offenders was unanimously approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“As a parent, my first priority is to help ensure the safety of my children,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. ” As a legislator, I have a responsibility to help protect the children of New Jersey, which is exactly what this bill would do. The GPS tracking would let law enforcement officers know sex offenders’ whereabouts at all times, which would help keep them away from children.”
The Senators’ measure, S-1889, would call for the development of a two-year pilot program for the continuous, satellite-based monitoring of high risk sex offenders. The program would utilize GPS technology to provide continuous, time-correlated tracking of a sex offender’s location and allow the Attorney General, Chairman of the State Parole Board, Superintendent of State Police and county and local law enforcement agencies to compare subjects’ locations with reported incidents of crime. The program would include 250 convicted sex offenders, statewide.
The bill would direct the State Parole Board to create the program. The Parole Board would also be authorized to impose a fee on sex offenders required to participate in the program, to cover the cost of tracking and equipment. Anyone found tampering with a tracking device would be guilty of a third degree crime, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and or fines of up to $15,000. The Parole board Chairman would be permitted to establish a polygraph program for all offenders serving a sentence of community supervision or parole supervision for life.
The Chairman of the Parole Board would be required to report to the Governor, Legislature and Attorney General upon the program’s completion, about recommendations for continuing the monitoring program on a permanent level.
In New Jersey, sex offenders are classified as “high risk,” if their risk of re-offense has been determined to be high by a number of factors including insanity, history of violent assault, and assault against children.
The measure would also appropriate $3 million to fund the two-year program.
“This would serve as a preventative measure to help keep our children safe,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “I believe in this bill. The technology would allow local law enforcement to keep better track of sex offenders and help them ensure the safety and well-being of New Jersey’s kids.”
This measure now heads to the full Senate for a vote.