Maffei proposes legislation in response to Renz case

Jul 3, 2013

In the wake of the David Renz case, there would be more oversight over federal probation offices if legislation proposed by Rep. Dan Maffei is approved.  The Syracuse-area Democrat is crafting legislation that would keep a tighter reign on suspects being monitored by electronic ankle bracelets.

It was a story that shocked central New York.  A Liverpool woman was killed, and a ten-year old girl was sexually abused outside the Great Northern Mall in Clay in March. Authorities believe Renz committed those crimes after disabling an electronic monitoring bracelet, meant to keep track of him while he awaited action on federal pornography charges. Maffei says the fact that probation officers ignored dozens of alerts that Renz had tampered with the bracelet is the focus of his three-pronged legislation. And he believes he'll have support from other lawmakers.

"When I talk to my colleagues in Congress, they're shocked. And they wonder immediately if this could happen in my area too, and what is different about Syracuse. And you conclude that there's nothing different about Syracuse that would allow it to happen here and not somewhere else,so that's why we need these national standards," said the congressman.

Maffei's proposal would create an independent watchdog overseeing all federal probation offices, establish a nationwide standard for responding to electronic bracelet alerts, and make it a federal crime to tamper with these devices. Maffei hopes to see action on the legislation in the fall, and he say he expects to have bipartisan support.

"This is not a partisan issue, there should be very little or no cost here. But it's a matter of making sure  there is sufficient oversight, sufficient coordination, and the proper standards to make sure this can never happen again, anywhere in the country."