Shea seeks to tighten electronic home monitoring notification requirements and hold offenders accountable


Sept. 18, 2013

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Shea seeks to tighten electronic home monitoring notification requirements and hold offenders accountable

Rep. Matt Shea is planning to sponsor legislation in the 2014 session that would tighten laws surrounding electronic home monitoring of criminals, improve notification of violations to law enforcement, and hold criminals accountable.

Shea’s comments follow an article today in “The Olympia Report,” an online publication of the Olympia-based think tank, The Freedom Foundation, which suggests hundreds of potentially dangerous criminals sentenced to electronic home monitoring may be walking around free due to either administrative oversight or corruption.

“It’s absolutely outrageous that criminals sentenced to electronic home monitoring may be able to skirt the system and walk around free in our neighborhoods when they’re supposed to be confined at home. This cannot be allowed to continue,” said Shea, R-Spokane Valley, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

Electronic home monitoring has become an increasingly popular alternative to other means of incarceration, primarily because of overcrowding in county jails. While some law enforcement agencies do the monitoring, others contract-out the services to private companies or bail bond companies. The Olympia Report article notes that one person on home monitoring never plugged in the box, so law enforcement personnel were unaware he was free. In other cases, the article alleges offenders “buy time off the clock,” meaning they may offer the monitor cash, drugs or other inducements that would allow them to roam free. According to The Freedom Foundation, there are no minimum professional standards a company must meet in order to be considered as a monitor for the program.

“The Freedom Agenda Team is working on legislation to correct this oversight. We look forward to working with local governments to ensure private home monitoring companies maintain the same level of service as our law enforcement professionals when watching convicted criminals. This is about protecting the community,” added Shea.

Shea said information about deficiencies in the electronic home monitoring program came to light following a whistleblower tip from a former detective in Whatcom County.

“Citizens are often unaware they may be living in the same neighborhood with an offender on electronic home monitoring. Now we have reports from credible sources that people’s safety may be at risk because of failures in the system. Awareness is vital for the protection of public safety. And we need courageous people to be willing to come forward when such egregious oversights or corruption are under the surface,” said Shea. “Thank you to The Freedom Foundation for acting on this whistleblower tip and getting the word out. We need to address this problem, ensure proper notification to law enforcement and hold offenders accountable.”

The Legislature will convene in session on Jan. 13, 2014.

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