By BILL LEUKHARDT
The Hartford Courant
April 4, 2010
Domestic violence victims terrified that their tormentors will ignore protective orders and attack them again will get some security through a new state program using GPS monitors to track the movement of high-risk offenders.
The $140,000 pilot program, paid for with federal stimulus funds, will begin in the Bridgeport, Hartford and Danielson judicial districts, Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Saturday. It will last a year.
The program was one of several reforms passed a week ago by the legislature's judiciary committee. Domestic violence is a high-profile issue for this year's General Assembly.
It comes in the wake of some high-profile cases in which women were killed, allegedly by estranged husbands and former boyfriends.
State workers will outfit at least 21 high-risk offenders with devices that will let victims and police know when an offender is too close to a victim, the victim's home or any other place court orders bar the offender from approaching.
"These funds will help us take a key step forward in our domestic violence prevention efforts," Rell said. "We continue to do all we can to keep victims safe and to make our domestic violence laws the toughest in the nation. These stimulus funds could save lives and prevent senseless tragedies."
The equipment will be used on domestic violence offenders who are charged in adult criminal court with violating a restraining or protective order or are considered likely to go after their victims, she said. Court officials will choose which offenders receive the monitors.
Both the offender and victim will have ankle bracelets. The device will notify a victim and the police when a defendant has violated set buffer zones or tampers with the device.
The device's warning will enable victims to get away and will guide police to the offender. Anyone in the program who violates restrictions will face additional penalties in criminal court.
Chief Court Administrator Barbara M. Quinn said the pilot program will allow the state to gauge the effectiveness of this new technology prior to statewide use.
"While we believe that this technology will be very useful in protecting victims' safety, it is but one tool to be utilized," Quinn said. "Domestic violence is a complex problem requiring all of the players in the criminal justice system, as well as domestic violence advocates, to continue to work together to enhance victims' safety."
Estimated family violence incidents in Connecticut year-to-date, based on 2008 data.
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