If all domestic violence offenders were required to wear GPS monitoring bracelets, would it prevent any tragedies? Governor Scott Walker seems to think it would, and is considering the move to track a possible 15,000 people per year in Wisconsin. His idea, obviously, has critics.
The idea seems like a knee-jerk reaction following several high profile mass killings, including the latest at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Lawmakers across the country are using this latest tragedy as a jumping off point for tighter gun restrictions and law changes in general. Walker also used the Brookfield spa shooting, where a man shot his estranged wife and six others before killing himself, as justification for the suggestion.
“Nothing’s foolproof, so I’m cautious to say anything would prevent anything for sure,” said Walker sounding a little unsure about his own plan. “But in the case of Brookfield, if that guy had a bracelet on, she got a text or a phone (call) to say he was close…and she immediately called the police, you can’t guarantee anything, but I don’t think it’s a leap of assumption to say they might have arrived fairly rapidly and potentially would have prevented him from gaining access or at least from attacking as many people as he did.”
With all the “potentials”, “likelys”, and not-guarantees in Walker’s own justification for his suggested plan, it’s understandable that not everyone is on board.
First is the cost. At a rate of about $7 per day, not all domestic violence offenders would be able to pay for their monitoring. And taxpayers would foot the bill when they couldn’t. Also, for those who could eke out the more than $1,200 over a six month period, it could hinder their ability to make other crucial payments, including child support.
And would such monitoring stop any potential violence? That’s highly debatable.
“The question is whether that’s something that’s possible under the Constitution and whether that’s something that we want in our society,” said civil rights attorney Tamara Packard when discussing Gov. Walker’s idea. She pointed out the Governor mentioned using GPS on people who had restraining orders and injunctions taken out against them—things that don’t require a criminal trial or due process.
Really, with Walker’s line of thinking, we could feasibly monitor everyone who is even slightly at risk of committing a crime. In this way, we would know where the potential offenders are at all times. Shoot, why don’t we monitor everyone?
There simply seems to be no rational justification for his sweeping suggestion, and it presents a frightening prospect—where people can be hooked up to tracking equipment without ever even committing a crime.
If you are accused of a domestic violence offense, or any other criminal offense, you have rights. Contact our offices today to discuss your legal options and how we might be able to help.