Editorial: Program fitting abusers with GPS trackers has proven successful
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 20:09
Back in 2010, a new pilot program was introduced in Connecticut to help combat domestic violence. The program works to deter repeat offenders with GPS devices, and is currently in effect in the Hartford, Bridgeport and Danielson areas.
The program starts with a judge in any of the aforementioned areas ordering the offender to wear a GPS device. The victim is given a corresponding GPS device to either carry with them or keep at home depending on what situation works best for them. If the offender gets within 5,000 feet of the victim, the victim is notified. If the offender gets within 2,500 feet, the victim and local police are alerted, family services and the state’s attorney are notified, and the offender must make a court appearance.
The program has been in effect for three years, and has resulted in 168 high-risk offenders in the Hartford, Bridgeport and Danielson regions wearing GPS ankle bracelets on. Since the program’s inception, no victims involved have been injured or killed, which has shown the effectiveness of the GPS devices in deterring repeat domestic violence offenders.
“It’s a really strong intervention and works well in very high-risk cases for keeping victims safe,” said Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Connecticut isn’t the only state to have such a program as Vermont, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C. have comparable initiatives.
This program is an important step in combatting domestic violence and should be commended for the success it has had the past few years, especially considering that Connecticut has an average of 15 deaths a year from domestic violence. The implementation of this GPS technology can help deter offenders from violating their restraining orders and it allows law enforcement be notified and to get involved should the offender violate their restraining order.
Proponents of the program have been looking to get the funding necessary to expand the program. It currently costs nearly $500,000 a year to run. Should it get approved, it would be expanded gradually, costing $928,000 the first year, and then $1.9 million each subsequent year.
“While we certainly, as a state, need to keep our budget in line, keeping citizens safe is important, and I think we should try to fund this statewide,” said Senator John A. Kissel of Enfield, a ranking member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.
While budgets are always a concern, this program has proven effective in combatting domestic violence and deserves strong consideration for expansionary funding.