Bill expanding eligibility for electronic monitoring moves to floor

Mike Seals - February 24, 2021 11:30 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved legislation Wednesday addressing a gap in eligibility for nonviolent offenders to participate in the Electronic Monitoring Program. Senate Bill 456 eliminates the current eligibility classifications allowing all sentence lengths to be eligible for the program once a nonviolent offender is within three years of discharge.

“Current law inadvertently left certain nonviolent offenders sentenced between five and ten years unable to participate in the Electronic Monitoring Program. This was an oversight that needs to be corrected to allow more nonviolent offenders the ability to serve out the remainder of their sentence at home with their families,” Coleman said. “This not only helps reconnect families and get these individuals back into the workforce, it also helps lower incarceration costs and overcrowding in our prison system.”

SB 456 also adds inmates convicted on counts relating to child abuse and neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult to the list of individuals deemed ineligible to be placed in the Electronic Monitoring Program. Coleman said this is a loophole that currently recognizes some instances of child abuse and neglect as well as exploiting vulnerable adults as nonviolent crimes, making an individual eligible to serve the end of their sentence outside of prison.

“While GPS monitoring is a good way to help most nonviolent offenders serve the remainder of their sentence at home, it’s not appropriate or safe for predators who have victimized children and vulnerable senior citizens,” Coleman said. “Electronic monitoring only tracks offenders’ location, not who they’re around or what they’re doing—meaning when they return home, they may still be in close proximity of the individual they hurt or exploited, possibly putting the victim in danger or causing them undue stress and anxiety. We must protect our most vulnerable citizens from those who would prey on them.”

Participation in the Electronic Monitoring Program is not automatic. Inmates must apply to get into the program and meet numerous eligibility standards prior to enrollment.

The bill, which was requested by the Department of Corrections, will now go before the full Senate.

 

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