TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Fred H. Madden that would require high risk sex offenders to wear GPS tracking devices was approved today by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.
“We have a responsibility to keep our children safe,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “National statistics have shown that 40% of sex offenders who re-offend do so within one year of their release. When sexual predators prey on innocent victims, it becomes a matter of public safety. By requiring convicted sex offenders to wear GPS tracking devices, we would be working to help prevent further attacks against members of the community.”
The Senators’ measure, S-1889, would create 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 fourth degree crime, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and or fines of up to $10,000.
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.
“The recent tragedies concerning assault and murder of children by sex offenders have devastated many families and communities,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “Although rehabilitation should not be precluded, sex offenders have a higher recidivism rate than other violent offenders and therefore need to be strictly monitored. The GPS monitoring of sex offenders would provide our children and communities with an additional defense tool against these violent predators.”
This measure now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for a vote.