For Immediate Release: January 20, 2010
Newberry Measure Would Enable Electronic Monitoring of Sex Offenders
Sen. Dan Newberry has filed legislation that would allow Oklahoma law enforcement officials to monitor the state’s most dangerous sex offenders through electronic tracking devices. Senate Bill 2301 would make electronic monitoring devices mandatory for all Level Two and Three sex offenders who have been released from custody, and provides penalties for removal of the device. Under the state’s tiered system, Level Two and Three offenders are considered a significant threat to society, having been convicted of crimes such kidnapping for sexual exploitation, rape in the first degree and soliciting sexual conduct with a minor.
Newberry said tracking devices could assist law enforcement in ensuring that sex offenders are properly registered, while providing an important preventative tool against predators.
“It’s imperative that we take every possible precaution in our effort to protect children from habitual predators,” said Newberry, R-Tulsa. “We can’t afford to wait until another tragedy occurs before we act on the issue. The fact that we release Level Two and Three sex offenders into an honor system for registration, and have insufficient tools for monitoring their activity upon release, represents a significant flaw in our laws on sex offenders.”
Newberry said his legislation was drafted following lengthy discussions with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s department. Newberry said he was motivated to act after Tulsa Police officers last year found twice-convicted sex offender Marcus Berry with a partially undressed two year-old girl while investigating an abandoned vehicle. Berry had also been arrested twice for violating the state’s sex offender residency registration laws.
SB 2301 would require offenders to pay for the tracking devices, and provides an option for payment plans. The measure establishes a penalty of 1 to 10 years in prison or $1,000 to $10,000 in fines for destruction of the tracking device. Offenders would be required to wear the bracelets for the duration of their registration as a sex offender.
“As lawmakers, we must remember that we have a responsibility to make our state a safe place for the most vulnerable members of our society,” Newberry said. “With this in mind, we must consider every potential safeguard for children. This law would allow Oklahoma parents and children to rest easier, while providing law enforcement with a powerful tool against habitual predators.”
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