As the economy continues to decline with increases in unemployment and decreases in public services, America has seen a rise in domestic violence across the country. The State of Connecticut is no exception, so the state legislature of Connecticut recently set aside $510,000 in state funding to revive a successful pilot program that implemented GPS technology to monitor high-risk offenders out on parole.
On October 1, 2010, Connecticut’s Judicial Branch outfitted 119 persons convicted of domestic violence with GPS tracking devices. These were high-risk offenders required by the courts to wear the bracelets as part of their sentencing. The program ran for nine months until funding ran out, but during that time, there were no reports of injury by any of the victims. Stephen Grant, the state’s director of Family and Juvenile Services, praised the program as one of the most successful that he had been involved in.
Two weeks prior to the initiation of the GPS monitoring program, September 15, 2010, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) did a 24-hour survey of fifteen programs and services involved in helping victims of domestic violence in Connecticut. There were 1,125 victims serviced in a single day by the fifteen providers with 294 seeking protective housing and 831 seeking abuse counseling, legal advice, or child services. The providers also answered 203 calls that came into their hotlines. A total of 47 requests could not be met because of lack of funding and/or staff. Such startling statistics ignited the launch of Connecticut’s pilot program to monitor domestic violence offenders through GPS tracking.
With funds now in hand and with the backing of State Representative Mae Flexer, chairwoman of the Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, authorities are already working on developing a plan that will draw on the cooperation of law enforcement, the judicial system, and independent monitoring systems. Although only 18 victims agreed to use the signaling device in the pilot program, Grant hopes that the pilot’s previous success will encourage more victims to use the device for instant alerts if a perpetrator invades a protected zone.
In one fiscal year, July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, the CCADV reported more than 54,000 victims of domestic violence serviced by its 18 agencies. Hopefully, the use of GPS tracking technology through tracking devices will help lower the rate of recurrence and reduce the rate of injury in Connecticut.