Should it be lawful to electronically monitor specific offenders deemed potentially “high risk” who have not yet ever violated a restraining order? Governor Scott Walker of Brookfield, Wisconsin, stirred up a controversy this year when he answered yes. He has recommended setting aside grants totalling $3 million to fund the project that would track via GPS technology individuals who are considered too unsafe not to supervise but have as yet done nothing after receiving the restraining order to warrant the tracking.
The portion allotted from the grant comes from an even larger $14 million set aside for law enforcement departments involved in monitoring internet activities for criminal use to sexually manipulate children and bolstering the safety of victims of sex crimes (protection in transport to court, emergency response to a call, etc). The restraining order part of Governor Walker’s plan comes with certain criteria necessary to be met to prevent “just anybody” from being slapped with a GPS tracking device. Wisconsin already has in place “Cindy’s Law” which makes lawful the GPS tracking of criminals who have previously broken the conditions of their restraining order. Violators are GPS tracked for both date/time and location. whether after release from prison back into public domain or even if they’ve never been in jail, to ensure they do not enter an exclusion zone, an area predefined in the restraining order. The criminal will be dealt with the authorities upon crossing the exclusion zone if it was previously deemed unlawful as well as unsafe for the petitioner of the restraining order.
To GPS track specific hazardous individuals who have never violated their restraining order, certain prior behavior will have had to occur. The Governor’s proposal stipulates the criminal must have before caused physical abuse to the petitioner or household pet(s), an incident of strangling or sexual abuse, vandalism to the petitioner’s personal property, including forced access to him or her. The violator can also be eligible for GPS tracking if he or she has ever made any verbal threats of injury to anyone (not just the victim), including using or declaring intention to use a gun or other dangerous weapon.