GPS Tracking Domestic Violence Offenders
Domestic violence statistics are certainly uncomfortable to look at when you realize that every number represents a person being victimized. Thankfully, there are now a lot of domestic violence hotlines and domestic violence shelters that help victims, but after charges have been filed, and a restraining order is put into place, what is next? Unfortunately, the fear of being attacked again is very real for victims of domestic violence, but that might be changing soon with a new technology called GPS tracking that is monitoring domestic violence offenders.
Wisconsin GPS Monitoring
When the Legislature’s Finance Committee for Wisconsin convened in 2014 they voted on whether or not to allocate funds for the state budget to be used for GPS tracking. What made this vote so interesting was that Governor Scott Walker’s budget never set money aside strictly for judges to implement a domestic violence GPS tracking plan to monitor those who are served with a restraining order. Proponents argued that monitoring those under a restraining order with real time GPS trackers would enhance personal safety and potentially save lives.
Before the Wisconsin GPS monitoring law passed, domestic violence offenders were subject to undergo monitoring via GPS tracking devices. This was fairly common in most states after a number of horrific incidents made news headlines where a person convicted of domestic violence would later commit murder. However, when Wisconsin judges were given the discretion to utilize GPS tracking devices to monitor those under a restraining order, most people agreed that this could be a step in a new direction to boost victim safety.
The cost of the Wisconsin GPS monitoring program was roughly $3 million over about 3 years, as law enforcement and local governments required time to invest in both real-time GPS tracking hardware and monitoring services.
“GPS tracking has been used successfully to monitor those convicted of domestic violence, and most importantly giving their victims some small peace of mind”, explained an advocate for expanding monitoring services in Wisconsin. “Not only do GPS trackers offer the real-time positions of offenders, but the devices are even capable of sending out alerts that will notify the victims if the offender is near them. The monitoring initiative passed in Wisconsin was simply a fantastic way to provide some level of mental comfort to those who filed for a restraining order because they never had to worry or wonder if that individual they filed a report against was lurking nearby. It really had positive consequences.”
Do you think judges should have the power to place someone who had a restraining order filed against them under mandatory GPS tracking surveillance?
North Carolina GPS Tracking Domestic Violence
Restraining Orders With GPS Tracking
Law enforcement frequently calls upon the most technologically advanced surveillance equipment to perform investigative work, and one of the most used devices is the GPS tracker. Designed to record and transmit real-time locational information, GPS trackers have played a critical role in the arrest of car thieves, drug dealers, and various other criminals. GPS tracking has undoubtedly been instrumental in helping investigators gather concrete evidence that can place a suspect at a particular place at any given time. This is why it is no surprise to hear legislators in the state of North Carolina expanded the use of GPS tracking devices to monitor domestic violence offenders as a way of enhancing the safety of the victims and accountability of the accused.
Voted on by the North Carolina Generally Assembly unanimously, the bill giving judicial powers the option to require domestic violence offenders to wear GPS tracking devices, bracelets or anklets passed state Senate. What the domestic violence GPS tracking plan offered was an alerting feature, notifying domestic violence victims and local authorities if the offender traveled to areas they were prohibited from visiting. These locations would include places such as the home or work environment of the victim. The bill was created and named after a woman named Allison Gaither who lost her life in 2009 when her estranged husband fatally stabbed her. Gaither believed her estranged husband was a threat to her personal safety and took out a domestic violence order to keep the man away from her. However, the legal document did nothing to stop the man from violating the court-ordered amount of space he was required to stay away from Gaither.
The hope is that with the use of sophisticated real-time GPS tracking and domestic violence GPS tracking legislation within each state that a heart-breaking situation such as the one that happened to Gaither can be avoided in the future. Most domestic violence GPS tracking laws are not immediately enacted is to give state legislators a way to determine an effective way to not only implement the GPS tracking program but also find the financial resources to cover the cost of the personal safety initiative.
Sage is a freelance writer with a background in information technology.