Tennessee County Uses GPS Technology, But Skepticism Surrounds Effectiveness

OM210_Final-2Law enforcement officials in Grundy County, Tennessee, are using GPS tracking technology to hold domestic violence offenders accountable and keep victims safe.

The sheriff’s department uses the tracking device for anyone arrested for domestic violence and released on bond, WRCB-TV.com reported. The offender wears an ankle bracelet, and the victim will carry a GPS key fob. The sheriff’s office sends an alert if the offender gets too close to the victim.

“We don’t want the victims to be scared anymore,” Sheriff Clint Shrum told WRCB-TV. “We want them to know we have something in place to help them be protected.”

The county started using the technology April 1, and is currently using about a dozen monitoring devices from Tennessee Recovery & Monitoring. The device costs $13 a day to operate — and the offender must pay the bill.

About 40 cases of domestic violence have been reported in Grundy County in the last six months. According to the Grundy County sheriff, the number of inmates in the jail is the lowest it’s been since last September.

Offenders typically wear the monitoring device 60 to 90 days, or until their next court appearance, the outlet reported.

Although domestic violence advocates support the practice, some jurisdictions are skeptical about the effectiveness of electronic monitoring. Orange County, Florida, for example, ended the practice after the 2012 killing of a witness by a man who was supposed to be under home confinement with an ankle monitor, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Mayor Teresa Jacobs this week told the paper, “No reinstatement of these programs is being considered at this time.”

Frederick Lauten, chief judge for Orange and Osceola counties, told the Sentinel, “electronic monitoring sounds good in theory, but working out the logistical issues is very challenging.” It might “provide a false sense of security to victims,” he said. “But there’s little you can do to stop a person bent on harming someone else.”

It’s unclear if electronic monitoring reduces recidivism rates or prevents offender from committing another crime. Marc Renzema, founder of the Journal of Offender Monitoring, said interest has dropped as agencies learned of the cost and labor the system requires. “In the early days, the technology was way oversold, and judges — and even in some of the cases corrections staff — thought it could do stuff that it couldn’t do, he told the Sentinel.

Electronic Monitoring Setback in New Jersey

A new report released by the office of the New Jersey’s Acting State Attorney  delivered a blow to domestic violence advocates in favor of statewide electronic monitoring for repeat offenders.

N.J. Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D – Mount Laurel) took umbrage with the report’s findings and questioned the voracity of its analysis and investigation.  New Jersey advocates have been lobbying to enact electronic monitoring by passing “Lisa’s Law,” a bill that was crafted following the death of Letizia “Lisa” Zindell of Toms River who was murdered by her ex-fiancé in violation of a restraining order.

Singleton’s remarks were made available via video press release.

Singleton, Advocates Call for Renewed Action on ‘Lisa’s Law’ at Start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.