WA lawmakers look to strengthen home detention laws




Posted on June 24, 2014 at 5:23 AM

Washington’s loose rules surrounding the electronic monitoring of criminals will change, according to chairman of the House of Representatives Public Safety Committee.

“We are working in a bi-partisan way to regulate the home monitoring industry much better. We will have legislation in the next session,” said Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland).

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On Monday, the Public Safety Committee heard testimony about abuses and failures of the industry that tracks thousands of criminals in Washington state – from sex offenders who’ve served their prison sentences and are now wearing GPS monitors, to DUI offenders who are serving their sentences on home detention.

“Inmates with ankle bracelets are not secure and the system does not protect public safety,” said Randy Weaver, President of the King County Corrections Officers Guild.

The committee watched an excerpt from KREM 2 sister station KING 5’s “Home Free” investigations, which have chronicled the problems within the industry.

Representatives from several private monitoring companies were also on hand.

“I think most of us do an honorable job of monitoring people and reporting,” said Barbara Miller of Friendship Diversion Services.  It operates electronic monitoring services for courts in eight Washington Counties.

Department of Corrections, which monitors about 200 ex-cons with GPS tracking bracelets, says there are limits to the technology and it will not usually halt a crime.

“Electronic monitoring is not preventative,” said Anne Aylward, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Corrections.