Domestic Abuse Electronic Tracking

August 7, 2008

A growing number of states has expanded electronic monitoring to include domestic abusers and stalkers. Michigan just joined their ranks. The Michigan law allows judges to order domestic abuse suspects to wear GPS devises, even before they go to trial. Also in Michigan, parole officers have fitted required 38 parolees on parole for aggravated stalking to wear GPS devices while on parolee.

For years GPS devices have used to monitor sex offenders. Now technological advances have made it possible for the systems to issue warnings by cell phone if the offender gets too close to a specific victim. A protection zone within which a warning will be issued to the cell phone must be large enough to give the notified party time to react. And bad cell phone reception limits the usefulness of the technology.

Last year Massachusetts enacted a law that allows judges to require electronic monitoring of those who have violated personal protection orders. This year Oklahoma and Hawaii joined the group, making the number of states to eleven which have enacted similar measures.

Protection orders do not stop a determined violator, as the news media has repeatedly reminded us. And it is a determined violator, a very small percentage, who is the real threat, and the one who makes the news after killing a spouse. In the overwhelming number of cases, a protection order, regardless how much based in fact, once issued by the court, is honored by the person ordered to follow it.

However, now the potential victim will have one more protective device working for them, which should keep more (not 100% becaue nothing is foolproof) people from harm, as well as giving the potential attacker another reason to refrain from committing a violent crime.  This is a good way to use technology. It’s good for everyone concerned…..the would be victim and family, our court system, and the would be attacker. Many times a person’s anger can diminish given enough time while having no contact with the person they’re angry at.

I do think all states should enact similar laws and look for more to do so in the future.