Thousands of paroled child molesters and rapists in California are removing court-ordered GPS monitors, aware there’s little risk of serving time for doing so, and some are being charged with new crimes that include sexual battery, kidnapping and attempted manslaughter.
A Times investigation has revealed that since October 2011, when the state began referring parole offenders go to county jails instead overcrowded prisons, more than 3,400 arrest warrants for convicts who tampered with tracking devices. Most of these warrants were for sex offenders, and many were for repeat violations.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Fresno parole agent Matt Hill. “If the public knew, they’d be shocked.”
California has 33 adult prisons designed to hold a maximum of 80,000 prisoners, but currently has 140,000. The Supreme Court declared California prison overcrowding unconstitutional in 2011, stating California cannot imprison more than 109,805 inmates at any time, then ordered 33,000 prisoners be released over two years
To help with this demand, Gov. Jerry Brown introduced a ”realignment” program that would see 52,000 prisoners released, 19,000 more than what was required. This program included immediately putting 30,000 convicted criminals up for early release, or have them transferred from state prisons to county jails.
Now that two-thirds of California’s 58 counties are under some form of mandated early release, 20 complying with maximum population capacity limits and 12 having self-imposed population caps to avoid lawsuits, parolees “certainly are feeling more bold,” said Jack Wallace, an executive at the California Sex Offender Management Board.
For example, 33-year-old Rithy Mam (pictured) is a convicted child stalker who was arrested three times in two months after skipping parole and freed almost immediately each time. After his third release, he removed his GPS device and molested two teen girls in Stockton, California. He was later arrested in a public park and is now in custody on felony child molestation charges.
The Times article is a pretty interesting read and includes some more examples and alarming statistics. California is definitely between a rock and a hard place – adhering to Supreme Court demands while still preserving public safety is probably no simple task. Some are trying to introduce bills that would require anyone who tampers with their GPS device be sent back to prison for three years.
That’s nice, I guess, but doesn’t seem like it addresses California’s current prison population issue. Anyone got any better ideas?