By Harriette Halepis
Over 3 million people are subject to stalking during a one year period (NY Times). Many of these people have filed restraining orders against their stalkers. Many more have discovered that restraining orders are relatively useless when a stalker is persistent.
In fact, “…about one quarter of women who were killed by their domestic abusers already had restraining orders (NY Times).” The vast majority of stalkers have had some kind of personal relationship with their victim in the past. Stalking frequently turns into domestic abuse with women and children becoming moving targets.
GPS tracking technology might be on the brink of changing the constant fear that victims of domestic abuse face on a daily basis. Thirteen states have implemented GPS tracking usage when it comes to domestic violence.
Still, in order to have a violent offender tracked, a judge must decide whether the trackers are to be used before a trial, as a permanent sentence, as part of bail, or at all. While some judges have seen the compelling arguments for GPS tracking, others are not quick to put the technology into action.
Since most judges are not entirely familiar with GPS tracking, they tend to resort to older domestic violence sentences – in short, restraining orders.
Those areas that can afford to track domestic violence offenders have found a clever way to pay for GPS tracking technology. In the state of Massachusetts, domestic violence offenders are charged $8 per day for the tracking bracelets that they are forced to wear – these criminals literally pay for their crimes.
If GPS trackers can save lives – when restraining orders clearly cannot – why is this technology largely disregarded? Aside from the fact that some police forces simply don’t have enough manpower to monitor trackers, those that sit upon the judicial bench must be educated as to the usefulness of GPS tracking.
Commenting on those judges that are still using futile sentencing methods, one Massachusetts judge has made the reluctance to use GPS tracking devices quite clear: “…until they know how GPS can be used and how successful it can be, judges are reluctant to order it because it’s unfamiliar (NY Times).” For the sake of those that are killed by domestic offenders every year – isn’t it about time to familiarize judges with GPS tracking systems?