Sweeney/Madden ‘GPS’ Bill Is Now Law

WOODBURY – A measure sponsored by Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Fred H. Madden that would create a two year pilot program for the satellite-based tracking of sex offenders and appropriate $3 million to fund the program was signed into law today by Governor Richard J. Codey at the Gloucester County Criminal Justice Complex in Woodbury.

“In an emergency situation, a GPS tracking device can serve as a preventative tool to alert police, so they can step in and rescue the children before they are assaulted,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 44% percent of rape victims are under the age of 18. The system was failing our children, and that’s why Senator Madden and I had to sponsor this measure – for the kids of New Jersey. Our children are too important not to take every precaution to keep them safe from these dangerous predators.”

The Senators’ measure, S-1889, calls for the development of a two-year pilot program for the continuous, satellite-based monitoring of high risk sex offenders. The program will 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 will include 250 convicted sex offenders, statewide.

The bill directs the State Parole Board to create the program. The Parole Board is 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 is 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 will 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.

“This bill will enable law enforcement in our State to put the latest technology to work in protecting our children and families,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “As Governor Codey said in his State of the State address earlier in the year, ‘I will leave no stone in my effort to keep our children safe.’ By signing this bill Governor Codey fulfilled that promise.”

This measure was unanimously approved by the full Senate on June 27.

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