TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Steve Sweeney and Fred H. Madden which would make permanent the provisions of the “Sex Offender Monitoring Act,” a pilot program which became law in 2005, was approved today by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“Today is a historic day for the people of New Jersey in that we are making permanent a program that will help keep our children safe from dangerous sexual predators,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “Before the pilot program was established, the system was failing our children in that, sexual predators were able to live near and even walk onto the grounds of schools and parks because police were not able to monitor the predators’ whereabouts. By making the GPS program permanent, we would be renewing our commitment to protecting the health and welfare of New Jersey’s children.”
“The intent of the legislation that created the 2005 pilot program was to help ensure that sexual predators were not allowed to frequent schools, playgrounds or other areas where there are often large numbers of children,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This legislation would enable local police to continue using the GPS technology as means to prevent sexual assault, and it would continue to send a clear message to would-be offenders that we view the safety of our children as one of New Jersey’s top priorities.”
The Senators’ bill, S-484, would make permanent the provisions of the 2005 pilot program which used GPS technology to track the whereabouts of high-risk sex offenders. The program used the GPS tracking to provide continuous, time-correlated tracking, and allowed law enforcement to compare subjects’ locations with reported incidents of crime.
In New Jersey, sex offenders are classified as “high risk” if their likelihood of re-offense has been determined to be high by a number of factors including insanity, history of violent assault, and assault against children.
Any offender who fails to comply with the GPS program would be guilty of a third degree crime, which carries a sentence of 3-5 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
The resolution would take effect immediately after being signed into law.
This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.