Time is everything. We have heard the phrase countless times in our lives, and for the Reagan Tokes Act, this bore true.
Last General Assembly, half of the bill was able to complete its legislative journey and the other half did not.
There were a number of reasons for this, one of which was the financial impact that part of the bill would have. Another reason was the lack of time to get it done, despite being introduced late in the first year of the biennial lawmaking process.
This time around, sponsors of the bill have brought the bill forward early in the session to avoid running out of time again.
They also are bringing it up during the time the biennial operating budget is being determined to alleviate and address the financial impact of the bill.
The bill itself addresses two areas that are connected: GPS monitoring and the workload of people tasked with keeping track of convicted felons on post-release controls.
Post-release controls are rules someone has to follow in order to be free from prison. Sometimes this includes wearing a device so that authorities know if you enter or leave an area you are not supposed to be.
Currently, the systems used to track those individuals are almost never tracked in real-time by the people responsible for keeping an eye on the individual.
Often, the systems being used don’t notify in real-time if a violation of the restrictions occurs.
Another issue is the intense workload many parole officers have. With a high number of convicted felons to keep track of, sometimes they can slip through the cracks.
Brian Golsby was released from prison early and put on post-release controls. He was wearing a GPS ankle monitor when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Reagan Tokes in February 2017.
He was also accused of committing several other crimes that were not discovered until his ankle monitor GPS data showed that he was where the crimes happened.
The Tokes’ family has fought to get things changed since Reagan’s death. Now, the time may be right to complete Reagan’s legacy, or at least her family thinks so.
“We all see how long it takes to get anything done, so introducing it early is imperative, and early in the initial stages of the budget process as well so they make sure that appropriate funds are allocated to the most important places,” said Lisa Tokes, Reagan’s mother. “I mean, let’s face it. Bottom line, really, there was a lot of hmm’ing and hawing that went on that was unnecessary because the bill was pretty much complete and, unfortunately, it comes down to financial, but I can’t think of anything more important when you look at budgetary appropriations than something that is going to save people’s lives.”
The Reagan Tokes Act was introduced in the Senate Monday. An identical companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House soon so both chambers can work on it simultaneously.