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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Senate bill would require GPS for certain felons in early release program

Sen. Migdalia González Arroyo

By The Star Staff

Inmates suffering from certain diseases who are released early from prison under a 1992 law will have to wear an electronic monitoring device with a global positioning system (GPS) under Senate legislation approved this week.

Following the recent murder of a woman allegedly committed by convicted killer Hérmes Ávila Vázquez, who had been released by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) for having an alleged terminal illness, Sen. Migdalia González Arroyo introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1467.

“[This] case has caused consternation in the country and has shown certain cracks in the correctional system, specifically in the evaluation process of candidates discharged under Law 25,” the measure reads.

In its preamble, the legislations maintains that individuals convicted of domestic abuse, sexual assault, child pornography or child abuse must use an electronic surveillance device equipped with a GPS during the remaining time of their sentence, even if they are serving it through an extended pass. The measure, in addition to preventing criminal situations, is intended to serve as a deterrent to those who enjoy the privilege established by Law 25.

SB 1467 was introduced on May 6 but was sent to pending matters, at the request of Sen. José Vargas Vidot, to strengthen the legislation and hold public hearings.

Meanwhile, the Senate endorsed an amendment to the Vehicle and Traffic Law to authorize the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Highways and Transportation Authority to use the emergency travel lane during certain hours and under limited conditions.

According to the measure, the legislation will allow the use of the emergency travel lane to seek to “relieve traffic congestion in places such as PR 22, PR 52, PR 5 and other roads in the country.”

“The authorization would be valid from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in accordance with the federal legal framework, which legitimizes it,” the bill reads.

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