It’s every parent’s nightmare—the kidnapping of a son or daughter. But when the kidnapper is the child’s other parent, the case becomes even more complicated. Even if the child is returned, what is to keep it from happening again? Many such cases are looking to GPS monitoring to keep track of the offending partner while awaiting criminal charges and custody decisions.
In 2008 Emiko Inoue fled her home in Wisconsin with her daughter to return to her home country of Japan the same day her husband filed divorce papers. It took four years to get her back to the United States to face felony charges of “interference with custody beyond visitation and interference with child custody—other parent.” When she was returned to Wisconsin in December 2011, she was fitted with a GPS monitoring device. In February 2012, she appealed for removal of the device; however, judgment was postponed until September. On September 25, a Milwaukee County judge ruled that the courts could not legally continue to track Inoue using GPS technology because GPS is not authorized in cases of deferred prosecution. Although Inoue will continue under supervision, the father fears that she may once again try to flee the country with his daughter. The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 may allow for the arrest of a parent who takes an under-aged child out of the country without the other parent’s permission, but this is little consolation.
The 1982 Missing Children’s Act defines a missing child as anyone under the age of 18 whose whereabouts are unknown by the legal custodian. Within that definition, there are many categories, including family abductions, non-family abductions, runaways, and lost/missing children. According to NISMART (National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children), there are 350,000 family abductions every year in the United States with 163,000 of these cases involving the concealment of a child, the transportation of a child out of state, or an intent to keep the child permanently. Other cases involve taking a child in violation of a custody agreement.
With so many cases involving custody battles, children often become pawns used by one partner to hurt the other. GPS tracking may be the only way to ensure the safety of these children and grant peace of mind to the legal guardian.