Sen. Rubio introduces bill to make it a felony to cut off GPS ankle monitors

Parolees are cutting off their ankle monitors in increasing numbers in Kern County. Now, at the urging of the Kern County Sheriff, two state senators have introduced a bill to make it a crime punishable by prison time.

Parolees are cutting off their ankle monitors in increasing numbers in Kern County. According to local law enforcement, that's because the consequences are minimal.

Now, at the urging of Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, two state senators have introduced a bill to make it a crime punishable by prison time.

"You just get some scissors and you snip it," said David Charris. Charris was in jail in October for cutting off his ankle monitor. "I got tired of it and so I cut the monitor off and ran," he told 17 News.

Two weeks after 17 News spoke to Charris he was released from Kern County Jail with a new monitor. A month later he cut that one off too. It was the 15th time he'd done it.

"I am going to cut it off and do what I want to do," said Charris.

Charris is the reason Sheriff Youngblood wants stricter penalties for parolees who cut off their monitors.

"Let's make it really detrimental for someone not to go along with the program," said Sheriff Youngblood.

Right now, if a parolee cuts off his anklet he is not charged with a new crime, but rather given a parole violation and sentenced to time in county jail.

"It won't work to say, 'let's give them six months in county jail' because my jail is full and I am going to kick them out early," said Youngblood.

On average, violators only serve 25 to 30 percent of their sentences. The sheriff said inmates know this, which he thinks, has lead to an increase in monitor violators.

"When you threaten your children with something and you don't follow through and you do that continually, they're not going to listen to you and this is the same concept," said Youngblood.

The sheriff said he would rather criminals be charged with a felony and sentenced to a year in state prison.

"We have to have some teeth in our laws," said Youngblood. "If we don't, these people are going to do whatever they want, whenever they want."

Sen. Michael Rubio agrees. He has co-authored a bill making monitor removal a felony.

"This law is going to see to it that we hold them responsible and accountable for removing those anklets," said Sen. Michael Rubio, (D) Shafter.

The first hearing on the bill will likely be next month.

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