GPS tracking could help ensure abusers keep their distanceby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Alleged stalkers in Ramsey County could start wearing electronic-tracking devices as early as today.
Authorities in Ramsey County say they want to make sure people accused of felony domestic violence are keeping their distance from their victims during the volatile period between the arrest and trial. The defendant would wear a GPS ankle bracelet, and the victim would carry a device that would alert them when the alleged stalker is nearby. Both sides must agree to participate.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said the equipment will ensure that the alleged abuser follows orders to stay away from the victim.
"When a judge will order a no-contact order, which is very typical, that's only a piece of paper. And what we ought to be thinking about is what else can we be doing to keep victims safe?" Choi said. "This GPS technology is going to be a big part of making sure we're doing the right thing in the criminal justice system in Ramsey County."
He said the voluntary GPS option is a good incentive for medium-risk defendants in exchange for lower bail amounts.
The program is starting off small but could be expanded after a year.
Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, who herself said she was abused many years ago, says GPS will keep victims safer.
"So much has changed. The awareness has been raised," Reinhardt said. "People are really paying attention to what is going on here and trying to do something to prevent homicides, because that is what this is really about."