US shows tracking can contain domestic violence

US states that have implemented electronic GPS (Global Positioning Systems) monitoring programs for perpetrators of domestic violence are achieving a high rate of success. On average, there has been a 95% reduction in cases of recidivism – that is, the vast majority of aggressors tracked by GPS have no longer harassed their victims.

In these programs, the victim, usually a woman, can establish “areas of exclusion” with a supervisor – or areas that the aggressor cannot penetrate. These are areas that the victim normally frequents, which include, for example, the vicinity of his or her home, work, schools, etc.

If the attacker enters that area, the alarm goes off. That is, the victim – and possibly a monitoring supervision service – has access to GPS. Thus, she learns that the aggressor is in one of the areas of exclusion. And you can take precautions.

Electronic monitoring by anklet or by GPS is an accessory that has been helping authorities to enforce court orders that establish distances that must be respected by perpetrators of domestic violence.

Many attackers used to view such court orders as just a “piece of paper”, according to a study by the American Society of Criminology, in which attackers and victims were interviewed. With electronic monitoring, which can put the police in pursuit of the attackers, they have taken court orders more seriously.

In the interviews, victims and aggressors saw positive and negative points in the system. Victims feel more secure within the exclusion areas, but can be “nervous” outside them. Even so, they started to have a feeling that life was back to normal. And they feel more comfortable leaving home, visiting family and friends and looking for a job.

Discussion for defense lawyers
The attackers said the system also brought them some benefits, such as forcibly leaving the victim alone and starting a new life, getting a job, restarting relationships with family and friends, etc. The best, according to them, is that the GPS protects them against false accusations of victims still angry with them. It serves as an alibi.

One problem is that they have to pay a daily fee for using electronic monitoring, which is not cheap for them, who have reduced hours of work and have to maintain a separate residence – in addition to sometimes having to pay child support.

His defense lawyers see a more serious problem, which needs to be discussed. Most of the time, your customers’ obligation to undergo electronic monitoring can be seen as a form of punishment.

In this case, it is a punishment imposed on defendants who have not yet been tried, let alone convicted. Lawyers claim that it is common for a case against their clients to be closed and this shows that there was no reason to punish them.

Thus, the decision to impose GPS tracking on suspects must weigh the need to protect the victim from the rights and interests of the alleged aggressor. A more balanced approach to the system should consider the safety and general welfare of the victim and also the defendants’ right to due process.

The issue of privacy should also be discussed, lawyers say. However, more recently, new technologies of “reverse tracking” and filtering limit the record of violations by the aggressor only when he enters an area of ​​exclusion, determined by the court order. In that case, tracking would not infringe the right to privacy.

In the United States, one in three women has experienced some form of domestic violence, according to the Wire website. Almost always, the aggressor is an “intimate partner”: husbands and ex-husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, boyfriends, family members and co-workers.

According to The Washington Post, a recent study showed that almost half of the 4,484 women murdered in the past decade were victims of an “intimate partner”. An FBI homicide report reports that in 2016, 93% of women murdered were victims of people close to them.

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