NC House Approves Program to GPS Monitor Domestic Abuse Offenders

By Michael A .Wiseman

House Bill 740, titled Allison’s Law/GPS Tracking Domestic Violence Pilot Program, passed unanimously in the North Carolina House chamber on Tuesday. Its aim is to set up a pilot program within Forsyth County to track domestic violence offenders via GPS. The entire Forsyth County delegation sponsored the bill in a cross-partisan effort. 

Representative Hanes from District 72  said “the Delegation came together on this bill to ensure its success. We look forward to leading this program and, hopefully, passing it statewide during the next long session.”

Hanes said that the “bill was born of a horrible tragedy we suffered a few years ago due to domestic violence.”

3mThat local tragedy was the fatal stabbing of Allison Gaither near Ardmore back in 2009. Allison’s estranged husband, Cory Gaither, had a protective warrant against him, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him from going to Allison’s home and stabbing her to death. He committed suicide shortly thereafter.A GPS monitoring program would help ensure attacks like those against Allison Gaither don’t happen in the future. It would track the location of violent offenders like Cory Gaither and, if they crossed a certain geolocation (such as their victim’s house or work), an alarm system would notify local authorities.

This type of monitoring system has already proven successful. A 2012 study out of Florida State University said that it impacted the offender’s behavior, prevented almost all contact attempts between the victim and the criminal, helped keep the offender from committing other crimes, and ensured better overall program compliance for the attacker. Most importantly, it made the victims feel safer.

The bill leaves a number of things open for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to decide, such as what type of offender would be monitored, how the monitoring program would be staffed, overall cost, the type of device, and more. The pilot program would help the Department of Public Safety make decisions on these items before it rolled out statewide to other counties.

One possible supplier could be 3M, who currently markets its own brand of GPS monitoring targeted specifically for domestic violence abusers; they’re currently only available outside the U.S. Omnilink makes a competing product as well.

A similar bill – this time, statewide – went before the house in 2013 to much fanfare. However, it was tabled in the Senate before eventually dying in a standing committee. The hope is that this new bill, and its better targeted pilot program, has a much better chance of surviving. Representative Hanes believes a successful pilot test this go-around will lead to the legislation being adopted statewide during the next long session.

Similar bills have also passed in over 12 other states. HB 740 now moves on to the Senate for review.

For more information on GPS Monitoring of Domestic Abuse Offenders, visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence