TRENTON – Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Fred H. Madden have introduced a measure that would establish a pilot program for the continuous, satellite-based monitoring of high risk sex offenders.
“According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 40% of sex offenders who re-offend after incarceration do so within one year of their release,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “This measure is absolutely necessary, and the State must fight to help protect the public from these dangerous predators.”
The Senators’ measure, S-1889, would require the Commissioner of Corrections to work with the Attorney General in establishing a one year pilot program for the continuous, satellite-based monitoring of high risk sex offenders. The Commissioner of Corrections would be directed to select three counties to participate in the program – one each from the Southern, Central and Northern regions of the State.
“Statistics show that half of all imprisoned sex offenders committed their crimes against children under the age of 13,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “In 1994, 7 year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender, right here in New Jersey. Recent tragedies across our country remind us that sex offenders pose a continuing danger to our children, as we fight to keep our children safe.”
The monitoring would be done using Global Positioning System (GPS) or other tracking technology. The tracking system would provide time-correlated, continuous tracking of the subject’s geographical location, as well as an automated system to permit law enforcement agencies to compare the geographic positions of monitored subjects with reported incidents of crime. The Attorney General, Commissioner of Corrections, Superintendent of State Police, and county and local law enforcement agencies would be authorized to share criminal incident information, including the time, place and nature of committed crimes.
The measure authorizes the Commissioner of Corrections to impose a fee on sex offenders required to participate in the program, to cover the cost of tracking and equipment. Anyone choosing to tamper with a tracking device would be guilty of a fourth degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and or fines of up to $10,000.
The Commissioner of Corrections 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 Statewide level.
“ Just this week, Florida adopted a law requiring sex offenders to wear satellite tracking devices for life, and I think that the same should be done here. This is a pilot program that we are hoping to turn into a permanent fixture in New Jersey,” Sweeney said.
In New Jersey, a sex offender can be classified as “high risk,” if their risk of re-offense has been determined to be high by a number of factors including insanity, violent assault, and assault committed against children.
“This measure would send a clear message to would-be sex offenders that New Jerseyans are serious about the safety and well being of our children. It’s sad that a program like this is necessary, but we will do whatever needs to be done to provide the best protection we can for our children,” Madden said.
The measure now awaits a vote by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.