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History of GPS Monitoring Policies in California

Date Published
February 26, 2013

Sidebar to the article Sex Offenders Monitored by GPS Found to Commit Fewer Crimes by Philip Bulman.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) began using GPS to supervise persons who have committed sex offenses in the community in 2005, when it began a two-year pilot program involving 500 GPS devices. The goals of the pilot were to give corrections officials experience with GPS monitoring and to resolve as many implementation issues as possible before expanding the program.

However, the passage of California Proposition 83 — better known as Jessica's Law — in November 2006 forced the department to quickly expand its efforts; Jessica's Law required that all sex offenders be placed on GPS monitoring for life. The law also:

  • Forbade sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park where children congregate.
  • Increased sentences for some sex crimes, including life sentences for some offenses against children.
  • Changed the criteria for sexually violent predators, increasing the number of sex offenders who are eligible for a civil commitment for treatment instead of being released on parole.
  • Made CDCR parole officers responsible for enforcing the terms and conditions of Jessica's Law while a parolee is under the state's supervision.

By April 2008, CDCR had equipped its high-risk sex offender population of 2,500 with ankle monitors. By the end of 2008, the department had fully implemented the program by equipping 2,300 non-high-risk offenders with monitors, bringing the total to 4,800. This total was nearly three times as many as that in Florida, which has the second-largest use of GPS units.

As of August 2011, almost 10,000 sex offenders were on parole in California. About 7,000 of them were living in the community, with roughly 99 percent being monitored by GPS technology.

About This Article

This article appeared in NIJ Journal Issue 271, February 2013, as a sidebar to the article Sex Offenders Monitored by GPS Found to Commit Fewer Crimes by Philip Bulman.

Date Created: February 26, 2013