Law enforcement leaders who pushed for a ballot initiative requiring sex offenders in California to be tracked by satellite for life now say that the sweeping surveillance program voters endorsed is not feasible and is unlikely to be fully implemented for years, if ever, reports the Los Angeles Times. Under the measure, approved overwhelmingly a year ago, sex offenders must be strapped with global positioning system devices that can record their whereabouts even after they finish parole and leave the criminal justice system.
Law enforcement groups contend that the benefits of Proposition 83, popularly known as Jessica’s Law, outweigh its problems, and they insist that many of the flaws can be fixed. Difficulties include the impracticality of tracking sex offenders who no longer must report to parole or probation officers, the lack of any penalty for those who refuse to cooperate with monitoring, and the question of whether such widespread tracking is effective in protecting the public. The biggest issue is that the law does not specify which agency or government should monitor felony sex offenders — and shoulder hundreds of millions of dollars a year in related costs. Only a small percentage of the 65,000 sex offenders thought to be living in the state are subject to the law, but the numbers are expected to grow by thousands every year as more offenders are released. The state’s new Sex Offender Management Board is taking testimony from local officials and others for a report due in January on how the law works in practice and what changes might need to be made.