Counties see sharp differences in sex offender fugitive increase

New data show sharp increases in the frequency of paroled sex offenders escaping electronic monitoring by the state since reduced penalties took effect Oct. 1, 2011. Here are the monthly totals of GPS arrest warrants issued for California, and just Los Angeles County.
(Paige St. John/Los Angeles Times)

The rate of sex offenders disabling their tracking devices under reduced state penalties has jumped unevenly in California, with a five-fold increase in some counties that release such offenders early, but rising even where early jail releases are not an issue.

The number of GPS warrants for paroled sex offenders accused of disarming or ditching their ankle monitors shows an overall increase since California reduced penalties in order to alleviate prison crowding. The average number of warrants before the law: 209 a month. By December 2012, the most recent month available, the 12-month average had risen to 346 cases, a 65% increase.

In Fresno County, where the Sheriff’s Department at times has asked parole agents not to bring in GPS violators for booking in the county’s overcrowded jail, the increase was 438%, a jump from four warrants a month to 24 warrants.

But even in Los Angeles County, where the Sheriff’s Department holds parole violators for their full jail sentence, there also has been a 70% increase in GPS warrants for sex offenders.

Lawmakers have proposed three bills that would require parolees who disarm their GPS trackers to be returned to state prison instead of jail. At the same time, a panel of federal judges on Thursday ordered California to take additional steps to reduce prison crowding.


Corrections officials contend the number of sex offenders disabling their GPS trackers doesn’t match the sharp rise in total incidents, a gap created by a subset of parolees who are repeat violators.

The Times found some individuals arrested and released from county jails multiple times, including a Stockton man charged with the murder and rape of his grandmother. Records show that while on parole and in a GPS monitoring program, he was jailed at least 10 times in the prior nine months, including for allegedly disabling his tracking device. San Joaquin County, which often kept parole violators no more than a day, saw a 153% increase in the rate of sex offenders absconding.