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Ankle monitors help police track domestic violence offenders

Many domestic abusers will repeat their terrible actions, if left unchecked. This forces authorities to find ways to help protect victims from their abusive spouse, relative or other household member.

Orders of protection help, because they deter some offenders from getting too close to their victims. But an order of protection is not enough to keep every abuser a safe distance away. And when a violation occurs, it can be difficult to punish the offender, because often it is the abuser’s word against the victim’s.

The Staten Island District Attorney’s Office has turned to ankle monitors to keep an eye on certain domestic violence offenders. The devices allow authorities in that borough of New York to know, nearly for certain, if the offender has gotten too close to his or her victim and is potentially eligible for arrest and prosecution.

The system is a pilot program that prosecutors expect to make permanent. It involves the offender paying for and wearing an ankle monitor that is programmed to go off if he or she enters an “exclusion zone,” often the victim’s home or workplace, or a child’s school. If that happens, the victim and police are both notified. The victim can then go to a safe place.

Prosecutors admit that the monitors are not appropriate in every case. One must be arrested more than once and have problems staying away from the victim to be eligible. And very violent offenders are unlikely to care about possible arrest, so other strategies must be used. But this could reduce a great deal of domestic violence incidents in New York, if other boroughs start using these monitors.

Source: SILive.com, “Staten Island DA’s domestic violence tracking initiative paying dividends,” Zak Koeske, April 10, 2014

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