Bill Requiring Electronic Monitoring Device for ‘High-Risk Parolees’ Fails

Bill Requiring Electronic Monitoring Device for ‘High-Risk Parolees’ Fails
A California Department of Corrections officer speaks to inmates at Chino State Prison in Chino, Calif., on Dec. 10, 2010. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Vanessa Serna

SACRAMENTO—A bill that would have required sex offenders, those convicted of a violent felony, and homeless parolees to wear an electronic monitoring device failed in the Public Safety Committee on April 19.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1827 died in a 2–5 vote, with two committee members abstaining. The bill would have also made it a misdemeanor for parolees who fail to report to their parole officer—a violation that would result in 180 days in county jail, according to the bill analysis.

Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) introduced AB 1827, also known as The Kate Tibbitts Act, named after a 61-year-old resident who was attacked and murdered along with her two dogs in her Sacramento home in 2021.

Troy Davis, a transient, was held responsible for Tibbitts’s death following his violation of parole and failure to appear in court for new crimes he committed while released, according to Tibbitts’s brother, Dan Tibbitts, who said the transient had also set his sister’s home on fire.

“Had the transient parolee who killed Kate been required to have this monitoring device, her senseless and brutal murder likely would have been avoided,” the brother said at the committee hearing.

The murder, which occurred in the Land Park community of the city, shook neighbors who used to feel safe in their own homes, he said.

Earlier in the day, before Tibbitts’s murder, Davis was seen on a porch camera of a home “performing sexual acts.” A helicopter was sent into the air to locate him, but the search was called off hours later when he couldn’t be found.

“Are we as a society putting the ... rights of convicted felons ahead of the rights of law-abiding citizens, taxpayers, and constituents of this state?” the brother, Dan, said.

Friends and family of Tibbitts urged the committee to vote in support of the bill.

Meanwhile, opponents of the bill insisted lawmakers focus on the problem of housing rather than monitoring.

“The solution is to provide housing. It’s cheaper, it’s more effective, and it works to keep people from reoffending,” California Public Defenders Association representative Margo George said while claiming that enforcing more paroles would only create more jobs for law enforcement.

Andrew Winn, CEO of the Insight Garden Program, also spoke in opposition of the bill, claiming that transient parolees would have a difficult time accessing places with electricity—a claim that was later challenged by another public commenter, stating paroles can charge their monitors if they can charge their phones.

“People without homes have a difficult time accessing places like electricity, thus setting them up for non-criminal violations,” Winn said.

Assemblyman Cooper later closed the public comment session prior to the vote while claiming parolees aren’t learning to abide by the rules and take responsibility.

“The goal of AB 1827 is [to] protect women like Kate from violent and sexual predators who voluntarily refuse to comply with their parole conditions,” Cooper said.

Cooper expressed the desire for parolees to integrate successfully back into the community but noted that it was not happening due to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) failing to implement policies to assist transient parolees.

“We’ve thrown $15 billion dollars in homelessness, [but] homelessness has gotten worse,” he said while stating the corrections department can invest in halfway housing, a residence for former inmates to reside following their release.

Cooper further highlighted the shootings that have occurred in the state involving the corrections department’s parolees who were arrested for violent crimes.

“At some point ... you’ve [got to] address this, otherwise [it] languishes,” he said.

Chair of the Public Safety Committee, Assemblyman Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), claimed the state should better help the corrections department to ensure public safety amid ongoing tragedies.

However, Jones-Sawyer voted against the bill in the belief it wasn’t the solution.

“We need to work vigorously, all of us together,” he said. “But [it’s] most important that we have a system that if someone is even remotely not abiding by the parole obligations, we take care of it. We don’t let it languish.”