In Massachusetts, where about one-quarter of intimate partner violence restraining orders are violated each year, a law has expanded the use of global positioning devices to include domestic abusers and stalkers who have violated orders of protection, says the New York Times. Twelve other states have passed similar legislation – most recently, Indiana last week – and about 5,000 domestic abusers are being tracked nationwide, said George Drake, who oversees Colorado's Electronic Monitoring Resource Center, which gathers data from equipment vendors.
The path to the system's widespread use has been uneven. It is hard to protect families who live in rural areas or where there are not enough police officers to respond quickly. With the economic downturn, states have cut money for training police and judges in GPS use. It is up to a judge, in cases of extreme violence, to decide whether to order its use before trial, as a condition of bail or as a sentence. That has led to complaints by civil libertarians of too much leeway for judges. “Until they know how GPS can be used and how successful it can be, judges are reluctant to order it because it's unfamiliar,” said Judge Peter Doyle of Newburyport, Ma., District Court. “Without seminars and convincing presentations, I wouldn't have been comfortable ordering it.”