Assemblymember Ben Hueso recently announced a new bill he authored that gives judges the ability to order GPS monitoring for perpetrators in domestic violence and stalking cases.
Hueso said that domestic violence and stalking crimes are significant public health and criminal justice problems.
While thousands of protective orders are issued each year to help protect domestic violence victims, more than half of them are violated, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Victims constantly live in fear, watching their backs to and from home and employment,” Hueso said. “This bill will provide vital protection and peace of mind to victims and their families.”
Under the proposed legislation, a judge can order GPS monitoring under three circumstances, including conviction of a felony domestic violence or stalking offense, as a condition of release while charges are pending or in conjunction with the approval of a restraining order in a civil court.
“The bill will turn written orders into real and tangible protection and provide peace of mind to victims and their families,” Hueso said.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of serious injury and death to women in the U.S., according to the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence.
Stalking affects 3.4 million adults in the U.S. each year, 30 percent of which are by a current or former intimate partner, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano said Hueso’s bill will save lives.
“It will add another layer of protection to victims and their families,” Bejarano said.
South Bay Community Services has worked with the Chula Vista Police Department’s domestic violence response unit for the last 40 years.
CEO Kathy Lembo said that when a victim leaves a batterer, that is the most vulnerable time for the victim.
“Technology has notoriously been a means by which abusers stalk and keep track of their victims, this bill would be an opportunity for victims to turn the tables and use technology to improve their safety and the safety of their children,” Lembo said. “The GPS tracking helps victims to protect themselves and their children,” she said.
“We need to find a more comprehensive way to deal with this,” Hueso said. “My bill will empower victims of domestic violence and stalking … so they won’t have to live in fear.”
Former shelter program director Amaris Sanchez said South Bay Community Services responds to approximately 1,000 calls for service each year, from National City to San Ysidro.
On average in the U.S., more than three women and one man are murdered by their partners every day, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center.
Sanchez said people become abusers and stalkers because they have a constant need to have power over someone else.
“The GPS tracking device will give victims an increased feeling of control over their situation,” she said.
One victim, who stayed in a short-term shelter at South Bay Community Services, now lives in transitional housing with her son.
She said her husband was possessive of her time and would monitor her whereabouts.
For her, the nightmare started nearly 10 years ago and began getting violent when the custody of their son became an issue.
She has spent years in a custody battle, but today she has full custody.
“I have to do whatever I can to protect my kids,” Alicia said. “I used to think this would never happen to me. But it did. You never think your husband — the one who is supposed to protect you, is going to hurt you.”