State lawmakers are weighing whether to mandate round-the-clock monitoring of people who prey on children.
Legislation proposed Thursday would require that any probation imposed on someone convicted of offenses classified as dangerous crimes against children must be for the rest of that person’s life.
Now, judges can — but are not required to — mandate probation, but there is no minimum.
Crafted by Rep. Laura Knaperek, R-Tempe, the measure requires offenders placed on probation be linked to realtime global positioning equipment — for as long as they live.
The idea is getting a chilly reception from defense attorneys who say not all people who commit crimes classified as dangerous to children deserve that kind of monitoring.
Prosecutors, however, see it as a useful tool, though they have reservations.
The law is patterned after one approved earlier this year in Florida, pushed by Mark Lunsford whose daughter, Jessica, had been kidnapped, raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports eight other states responded with similar laws.
HB2045 would add Arizona to that list.
Knaperek acknowledged her bill still would permit judges to place offenders in prison without including probation as part of the sentence.
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said these people must be watched and monitoring is a partial solution.
Knaperek said tracking would be a deterrent.
"You know that somebody knows where you’re at at all times,’’ she said.
Krystal Garza, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said monitoring is a good idea. But she feared the new technology could result in judges imposing shorter prison terms — or none at all — if they believe monitoring will protect the community.
The blanket requirement bothers Joseph St. Louis, a Tucson defense lawyer who is president-elect of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He said the question of the length of probation and monitoring should be left to a sentencing judge "based on the facts and information presented to them about when a person doesn’t need to be supervised any more.’
Knaperek estimated first-year costs of about $7 million.
A Nebraska company which makes the devices claims monitoring can be accomplished for $10 per person per day. Incarceration can cost upward of $50 a day.