Healey Proposes GPS to Protect Abuse Victims, Gang Witnesses

By Karen Testa, Associated Press Writer | February 16, 2005

BOSTON -- Victims of domestic abuse and witnesses to gang crimes could get special protections from satellite technology under new legislation filed Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.

The bill would make Massachusetts the first state to use Global Positioning System monitoring to combat domestic violence, Healey's office said.

Under the proposal, courts would be allowed to force abusers who violate their restraining orders to wear a monitoring device as a condition of their probation. The system would alert the victim and police if the offender enters certain restricted areas, such as a home, workplace or child's school.

The technology already is being used in Massachusetts to track the state's most dangerous sexual predators.

Abusers who are caught in excluded zones, which would be determined by a court, would be punished by up to a $5,000 fine or 2 1/2 years in jail.

Victim advocates say this legislation is historic because it would shift the burden off the victim to protect herself or himself. Most often, the victims are the ones who alter their routines -- or worse, give up their homes, jobs and communities -- to try to stay safe.

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