Ramsey County and other criminal justice departments will begin using GPS monitoring to track alleged domestic violence offenders before their trial to ensure compliance with court orders.
The GPS will monitor the location of the defendant in order to protect the victim and prevent violations of pre-trial stipulations. Participation in the GPS tracking program must be agreed upon by both parties involved. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi believes the technology can offer another sense of protection to victims.
“This program will apply the power of technology and creative thinking to intervene in this all-too-familiar cycle of violence,” said Choi. “Most importantly, it gives victims of domestic violence another layer of protection at a critical point in their lives.”
Although use of the technology does not guarantee a victim’s safety, the benefits to both parties seem to outweigh the drawbacks.
From a victim’s state of view, the GPS technology can offer peace of mind knowing that police can see when an alleged abuser is nearing the victim’s home or place of employment. This assurance gives victims a chance to focus on their daily routine as opposed to fearing that they may receive an unwelcomed visit from the defendant.
There are also drawbacks for the victims in a GPS monitoring program. Researchers fear that victims may curtail their schedules to only stay in “victim zones”, or they may develop a false sense of security. Also, they may receive less financial support from the defendant if the abuser is unable to find employment or faces work restrictions due to the presence of a GPS monitor.
The program also has benefits for defendants. Defendants may receive lower bail amounts if they agree to the GPS program, and they would have peace of mind knowing that GPS tracking would prevent false accusations about harassment attempts. Also, successful completion of the program would show the court that the defendant is willing to comply with court orders.
Minnesota Defense Lawyer Adam Goldfine believes most of the benefits favor the alleged victim.
“There are not too many benefits for the defendant,” said Goldfine. “It’s also pretty presumptive to place a GPS device on an alleged abuser before trial.”
Goldfine also mentioned that although the defendant may receive a lower bail amount, they would likely have to cover some of the expenses associated with the GPS program. That being said, Goldfine believes it will be a good program and he is curious to see the results.
“It won’t be a complete deterrent, but it will be a good measure.”
Related source: My Fox Twin Cities