GPS Tracking for Victims of Domestic Violence

Posted: June 12, 2013 in Corrections, Policing, Technology & Crime
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For several years now there’s been a lot of buzz about tracking offenders using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology. Knowing where offenders are located, or where they’ve been, can help correctional agencies better monitor probationers – or so the idea goes.


Unfortunately, this hasn’t always worked as well as people believe  it should, especially in California where literally thousands of high risk offenders are easily absconding from monitoring. The reasons for these problems are complicated, and they vary by jurisdiction.

Now, though, there’s a new version of this technology available for use in domestic violence and stalking cases that relies on the concept of proximity-based networking to alert victims that a perpetrator is dangerously close.

A system of this type is currently being piloted by the county that serves the city of St. Paul in Minnesota (PDF).

The idea is simple: Since the perpetrator and victim are known to each other in these types of cases, the perpetrator can be fitted with an ankle bracelet that’s matched with a sensor carried by the victim. If the perpetrator enters a restricted area, the sensor triggers an alert that is sent by email or text message to the victim. The police are automatically notified as well.

There’s also a notification if the perpetrator tampers with or removes the ankle bracelet.

The Minnesota trial of this system continues, but the plan is to expand its use to other types of offenses if all goes well.

What are your thoughts or concerns about this technology and how it’s being applied in these cases?

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