Judges in two Florida counties are mandating the use of GPS trackers in certain cases they deem to be high-risk. Individuals accused of committing acts of domestic violence in Osceola and Orange counties may be fitted with GPS devices designed to warn those associated with orders of protection in the event that their alleged abuser comes too close.
At this time, the GPS units will only affect cases in which permanent injunctions have been ordered. However, this policy has the potential to morph and spread until it affects other kinds of cases in the future. As it stands, this policy is likely the first of its kind nationwide, given the nature of the offenses being targeted.
No one can dispute the idea that if an order of protection is in place, it should be respected. However, the tagging and tracking of individuals with GPS units for an undetermined amount of time is likely to be opposed by civil liberties advocates. Especially because many of these cases are solely civil in nature and affected persons have often not technically been found guilty of any crime. To-date, only criminal defendants are outfitted with GPS units throughout the U.S.
Roughly ten percent of alleged domestic violence cases in these counties could be affected by the new policy. It was inspired in large part by the spike in domestic partner homicides that have occurred in Florida in the past year. This trend is certainly a problem and must be addressed. However, tracking individuals who have not been convicted of criminal activity via GPS for an uncertain amount of time is not likely to be the best solution, especially given legitimate concerns about the privacy of those affected.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “GPS tracking will warn domestic-violence victims when abuser is approaching,” Kate Santich, Feb. 8, 2013