Should we track domestic violence abusers (or rapists and pedophiles for that matter) by implanting GPS chips in convicted offenders? It’s an interesting question and one explored in an article on Slate by Maura Kelly.
Just as GPS can find a lost driver, it can also alert cops and targets whenever a domestic-violence offender enters a restricted zone, like the area surrounding a woman’s home or office. Police put an electronic bracelet on the batterer that sends a signal to computer servers at headquarters if he goes anywhere he shouldn’t. Then, if he violates a restraining order, they can call the woman to let her know that he is on his uninvited way. The idea is to buy women crucial time, even if it’s only minutes, so they can get away. The notification loop also kicks in if the offender tries to remove or deactivate the bracelet.
The topic is all the more interesting considering Nevada’s place in the nation on domestic violence homicides (we’re No. 2) and instances of reported sexual assault. And let me add another log on the fire: Nevada and indeed most states in the nation suck at tracking sex offenders, including pedophiles. Sure, they’re supposed to register with the police, but that’s about it. After that, in most states the only follow-up is a postcard sent once a year to their last-known address to make sure they still live there. What’s worse, here in Nevada our sex offender registry doesn’t even link to the national database!
There’s a lot to be outraged about when it comes to women and violence in the Silver State. So is court-ordered GPS tracking the answer (there are laws in some states that allow a judge to order it)? The outraged survivor in me says yes. But what does this mean for civil rights? Is it inviting Big Brother in if we ask him to monitor convicted offenders? I’m not sure. What do you think?