AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Senate approved a bill on Monday that would make it a felony for a person to knowingly remove or disable an ankle-monitoring device they must wear as a condition of house arrest, parole, or release on bail.
According to Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who authored the bill, 76,940 people are currently on probation in Texas and 4,315 of them have a monitoring device. She said that in the past year, 1,127 monitor straps have been cut or an active mandate remains for a strap cut.
Governor Abbott wants more penalties for ankle tracking violations
Right now, it’s just a parole violation to tamper with or destroy an ankle monitor. The bill would make it a third-degree or state prison felony. A felony in state prison, according to the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), is one step below a third-degree felony. The charges would also apply if the person used a third party to tamper with the device.
In a robbery that ended at The Domain in June 2022, the Austin Police Department said one of the suspects cut off his ankle monitor two days after he was released from juvenile custody and about two weeks before he allegedly took part in the robberies.
“As we’re trying to get away from incarceration, we’re trying to use technology,” said TMPA Executive Director Kevin Lawrence. “But now we’re finding that the more we use it, the more we find people trying to foil those methods.”
According to the witness list for the bill, no one has spoken out against it.
It will now go to a House committee.