The state plans to map the homes of 1,800 sex offenders using global positioning technology to certify that they are staying far enough from schools, the head of the corrections department announced Saturday.
James Tilton, acting secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said high-risk sex offenders will be monitored to ensure that they are living at least half a mile from elementary, middle and high schools, in accordance with state law.
“In the past we used the old way of verifying placement, driving the streets and measuring the distance from a parolee’s home to a school or park; today that isn’t good enough,” Tilton said. “We will use whatever technology we can to make sure we are in compliance with all state laws and guidelines.”
The statewide audit comes at a time when the department’s sex offender program has been criticized for paroling high-risk sex offenders to hotels near Disneyland.
The department said parole agents will begin using GPS technology this week to measure the distance between schools and residences of 1,808 high-risk offenders.
The state classifies a person as high-risk based upon previous offenses, the number of victims in a crime, the level of violence of a crime and the likelihood a person will commit another sex crime, said department spokeswoman Elaine Jennings.
The Schwarzenegger administration Wednesday dismissed its director of the prison system’s parole division, Jim L’Etoile, after lawmakers complained that 23 offenders had been housed within 11 miles of Disneyland.
The department has also been criticized for temporarily placing a dozen sex offenders at San Quentin State Prison when they could find no other housing.
Officials said a hotel contract was canceled, and there were few alternatives in the San Francisco Bay area. The corrections department is required by law to return parolees to their county of last legal residence.
The state also tracks 417 high-risk offenders with a GPS ankle bracelet as part of a pilot program to monitor and track their movements.