Rep. Matt Shea’s electronic home monitoring accountability bill sent to governor

The Washington State House of Representatives gave unanimous and final approval today to a bill that would establish tougher new accountability standards for convicts sentenced to the state’s electronic home monitoring program. The measure is on its way to the governor for signature.

House Bill 1943 was one of the last measures considered by the House for concurrence in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session, which is adjourning two days early in preparation for a special session that begins April 29.

The bill’s prime-sponsor, Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said the measure “is one of the most substantive reforms of electronic home monitoring that this Legislature will pass.”

“This will actually make sure these folks are monitored. It will make sure they are at home or where the court has ordered them,” Shea added. “It’s going to make our communities safer, and it is going to curb the abuses in the system that have led to some pretty egregious cases.”

Shea first became involved in working for reforms in 2014 after news reports that dangerous offenders sentenced to electronic home monitoring were removing their ankle bracelets and even “buying time off the clock” when they’re supposed to be confined to their homes. KING 5 news reported that while on electronic home monitoring, offenders stole a Seattle ferry, kidnapped a six-year-old Seattle girl and murdered a 13-year-old girl in Vancouver.

“It was completely out of control and a lot of innocent people were put at risk while these criminals walked around free,” said Shea. “This measure will return accountability to the system.”

Among other things, the bill would:

  • Prohibit home detention for offenders who have previously violated the terms of a home detention program;
  • Require monitoring agencies to notify the court and other entities within 24 hours when a monitored individual is unaccounted for, or beyond an approved location for 24 consecutive hours;
  • Require monitoring agencies to notify the court or other entities when there are known violations of electronic monitoring;
  • Prohibit pre-trial home detention for offenders who have a prior
    conviction for a violent or sex offense; and
  • Provide that a person who knowingly violates the terms of home detention is guilty of “escape in the third degree;” and
  • Allow courts to fine monitoring agencies up to $1,000 per violation for failing to comply with monitoring requirements.

The governor has up to 20 days to sign, veto or partially veto the measure once it has been delivered to his desk. He may also allow it to become law without his signature. Shea noted House Bill 1943 is one of the top public safety measures to pass both chambers of the Legislature this year, and he expects the governor to sign the bill into law.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
461 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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