Pilot Program Using GPS to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

The law and law enforcement is evolving all the time, especially with the advent of technology. The ever-present web of signals that transmit information via phone, tablet, and computer can also be harnessed to track stolen items, and even convicts. There is even a pilot program, started in Ramsey County, which claims to prevent those accused of domestic violence from approaching their victims.

GPS technology has been used in some cases in Ramsey County to warn when alleged abusers get too close to their victims. Bills are currently moving through the House and Senate which would allow the program to extend to other counties. Some believe it will be a great help for someone who is worried about her safety from someone abusive.

The program began on November 1, 2012, in an effort to keep victims of abuse safe and making sure the defendants were following their non-contact orders. It was supposed to be evaluated for a year, but officials say they have not yet compiled enough data to form any conclusive results.

Every domestic violence defendant in Ramsey County is screened by Project Remand, a nonprofit organization that provides pretrial services in that jurisdiction, to see if he or she can be released under the monitoring device. Both the defendant and the victim must agree to participate before they are given their GPS devices. The defendant must wear an ankle bracelet, while the victim carries a device to alert him or her if the defendant is too close. Should they become too close, the defendant must leave the area or authorities will be warned.

When the defendant receives a warning, so does the victim. The victim is told to call 911 via phone call, text, or email, while the defendant is told to return home.

19 out of 170 eligible defendants participated, with 12 deemed a success in the program’s first year. Other programs across the country have shown a similar rate of success.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, from a minor misdemeanor to a major felony, you’re going to need a powerful defense. Call the offices of Kevin W. DeVore for a free consultation, and we’ll see your case is brought to its best possible resolution.

Luke Frederick