North Carolina lawmakers are considering whether to give judges the option to track a domestic violence offender using GPS devices.
Under the bill, the GPS would alert victims when the abusers are near their homes, schools or work. The proposal would be effective in July 2014, once the state determines how it will implement and pay for it.
The House already voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 477, which is named after Allison Gaither of Forsyth County. Gaither was fatally stabbed by her estranged husband in 2009. She had a restraining order against him at the time.
Allison’s Law passed a first reading in the Senate on May 14 and has been referred to a judiciary committee for further review.
If the bill becomes law, North Carolina would join several other states that use GPS technology to track violent offenders. It has shown to be an effective deterrent in several regions throughout the U.S., according to a 2012 study from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Researchers found that violent pre-trial offenders were much more likely to obey no-contact orders when equipped with a GPS ankle device compared with those who were not. They also found that victims of domestic violence gained a sense of relief knowing that their abusers were being tracked by GPS.
However, it is important to remember that no device is foolproof. GPS devices are subject to malfunction and failures just as easily as any other piece of technology.
If you are being victimized, you need to take every legal step possible to protect yourself from harm. That includes alerting law enforcement, taking out restraining orders against your abuser and most importantly, getting away from the offender as soon as possible.
The Raleigh family law firm of Charles R. Ullman & Associates offers information and links to resources about domestic violence and abuse. Please contact us online or call us toll-free if you would like to schedule a consultation.