May 14, 2011

Dutchess County NY to lead the nation in GPS tracking

If testing of the system is successful, Dutchess County soon will be the only place in the country where domestic-violence offenders are tracked by GPS devices and their victims are notified if they are nearby.

That was the message from county officials Thursday as they unveiled a plan that would require selected repeat offenders to wear devices that track their whereabouts by global positioning satellites.

Full article at link:

What concerns me right off the bat about this article, is that it appears to be an open endorsement of the pilot program. There is no question as to whether or not we should even be doing this in the first place, and no reporting on precisely what protocols will be implemented when testing is completed. In this day and age of excessive abuses against citizens and police-state mission-creep, I hardly feel compelled to let them put us on yet another slippery slope. Domestic violence propaganda invokes a classic knee-jerk response by the layman, which allows for the powers that be to convince the people that this is "for your own safety."

In Dutchess County, there has been a string of shocking murders that make the area ripe for the implementation of yet another Orwellian solution to our problems. The fact of the matter is though, that none of these deaths would have been prevented by a GPS tracking system. The article makes reference to "select repeat offenders" but makes no mention of the criteria that will be used in this selection.

Do they intend to track people who are merely accused of a domestic violence crime, or merely accused of violating an Order of Protection, before they have had their Constitutionally protected right to a trial? It hardly seems that in a land of liberty, we would tolerate the police electronically tracking a person who has never been convicted of any crime. In all of these recent murders, none of the offenders had yet had a trial, and in one case, was never even accused of domestic violence by his victim.

The vaguely outlined plan as reported in the linked article above calls for the person being tracked to pay $14 a day to cover the cost of the tamper-proof device which they must wear at all times to be tracked via a Global Positioning System satellite. I get the impression though, that there are more hidden costs to the taxpayer here which are not being discussed for one thing.

Like paying the police to monitor this system and act as personal body guards to victims and/or alleged victims of DV. If an alleged perpetrator is being tracked by this system before a trial, and the accused is then exonerated, will they be reimbursed for the $14 per day cost? And if the wrongfully accused is in fact reimbursed, would that not then pose a threat to their right to a fair trial to begin with, as the court itself would have a financial stake in seeing the accused be found guilty, rather than refund the money?

And lastly, what about folks who can't afford the $14 a day, $98 per week, $424.32 per month or the whopping $5,110 per year? The truth is, so many DV cases are brought about because of severe financial pressure on folks. Four hundred and some odd dollars is almost as much as some folks pay for rent each month, or what someone might pay for a car payment and insurance each month. For all too many people, it would simply be unaffordable. And it certainly should not be a cost mandated upon someone who has not been found guilty of any crime.

So maybe they are just going to use it on people who have been convicted of a crime. Hardly seems like a logical measure to implement this system as a preventive measure after the bomb has already gone off so to speak, but okay, perhaps in a few rare instances this technology might actually be helpful as part of the disposition of a case. Though I can't really imagine what such instances might actually be.

Someone who has been convicted of a domestic-violence crime, who seems likely to go after their victim again, really belongs in jail or prison if the threat is that serious. And if the person has already done their time, and has been released from jail, what right does the state have to track someone who has already paid their debt to society? Are the courts to mandate someone convicted of a DV crime must pay $400+ a month for the rest of their life to be monitored?

Lastly, we have to finally look at, specifically, how effective this technology can actually be. The article linked above tells us...

If the person wearing the device enters a "protected zone" where the offender's purported victim lives or works, the victim and police will be notified automatically, Senior Assistant District Attorney Marjorie Smith, chief of the special victims bureau, said during a news conference at the Dutchess County Office Building.

Well, in two of the recent DV homicides, the victim was living with their killer at the time of the murders. So clearly, GPS tracking would have done no good in either of those two cases.

In another case, the victim herself went to meet her alleged abuser. In that case we are told that she was murdered by her husband, who then shot and killed a police officer, before finally turning a gun on himself and committing suicide. The husband had already been accused of violating an order of protection (though not convicted) and the woman had moved out of their shared home to go live with family three counties away. Yet she still felt compelled to meet him at the train station, where triple-death occurred, simply so that she could take possession of the family car. She was neither at home or at work, and willingly violated her own order of protection to go meet this man, well outside of any "safety zone" that might have been being monitored, so clearly in that case too, this technology would have been useless.

Lastly, there is the case of the woman who was murdered at home by her husband, in front of their daughter, before he killed himself. A month earlier, the man had been accused of beating her and menacing the family with a firearm. He was released on bail, served with an order of protection directing him to stay away from his house and family, and the woman was notified that he was being released. When he came to the house several days later, in the very early hours of the morning, a GPS device may have been of some benefit. However, it is important to note, that it is unlikely the woman would have been able to defend herself had she gotten an alert, because the judge in the case had ordered that all firearms be taken from the home. Therefore, she had no defense against the man who came armed with a pistol that was not his. It is also important to note, that police were in fact notified of his presence at the home, and a large number of them had already assembled outside when the deaths actually occurred. So even in this one single case, where GPS tracking may have been useful to a limited extent, it is still unlikely that it would have prevented that tragedy.

So, considering all of these facts, I ask you, what is the real point of this program? Do the benefits really outweigh the costs in tax dollars? Do the benefits really outweigh the potential for abuse by police and courts? Is this really a program meant to help save lives, or to accelerate the erosion of liberty in this country? How long will it take them to come with a reason to track YOU?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

I may be contacted at my email address