New D.C. Law Closes GPS Monitoring Loophole

People on parole or probation for crimes committed in D.C. now face up to six months in jail if they tamper with GPS monitoring devices.

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the legislation making GPS tampering a crime Wednesday.

“This legislation is a strong step to remedy a critical shortcoming in our criminal justice system,” Bowser said in a news release.

Previously, anyone under supervised release should have been held criminally responsible for tampering with GPS devices, but a Court of Appeals ruling interpreted the law only to apply to GPS monitoring ordered by a judge or the U.S. Parole Commission, allowing others on supervised release to go unpunished for removing, disabling or otherwise tampering with the devices.

"Today we are closing that significant gap with this law," Bowser said.

The new law applies to any agency that can order GPS monitoring, including the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Pretrial Services Agency, and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The new law wouldn't necessarily have prevented the slaying of yoga teacher and actress Tricia McCauley, who disappeared on Christmas Day, Bowser said. GPS monitoring was ordered just days earlier for the suspect in her death, Adrian Duane Johnson, court records show.

"Even if he had the device, that doesn’t mean he and Ms. McCauley wouldn’t have crossed paths," Bowser said.

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