Maffei introducing new legislation to strengthen probation system

Dec 5, 2013

Syracuse-area Congressman Dan Maffei is introducing legislation to crack down on people tampering with electronic probation devices and to hold federal probation offices more accountable.

Maffei is introducing the Federal Probation System Reform Act, which he says will make it a federal crime to tamper with an electronic monitoring device, and establish a nationwide standard for responding to bracelet alerts.

"What happens is that sometimes when somebody tries to tamper with it, currently, an office won't respond because they'll think it's a false alarm, and there are a lot of false alarms," Maffei said. "But that's not acceptable. It's not an acceptable excuse."

The legislation would also institute an inspector general to oversee all federal probation offices.

"There really is a very lax supervisory system here because it's part of the court system," Maffei said. "The court system isn't an administrative system. So yeah, it's fine for judges to supervise other judges, et cetera. But there's no experience in supervising these kinds of probation offices. So, really we need that inspector general and we need that set of national standards, because currently it's all administered at the local level."

The legislation was prompted by the case earlier this year of David Renz, who escaped from his electronic ankle bracelet and killed Lori Bresnahan and sexually assaulted a ten-year-old girl outside Great Northern Mall in Clay.

Maffei says he is hopeful that other legislators will sign on and that corresponding legislation will soon be introduced in the Senate. The Federal Probation System Reform Act's next step is the House Judiciary Committee.