I share the frustrations of many who support enhanced safety for the victims of domestic violence, and I fear it will take another tragic event to push those responsible for enforcement and implementation of Amanda's Law to make it work.
The article identified "lack of funding and technological hurdles" as the excuses given by various officials for their failure to use Amanda's Law.
As for funding, many counties besides Jefferson and Fayette already use GPS technology for release of county prisoners to help ease the costs of incarceration. For example, it costs a county about $50 a day to jail a person, but only $10 for a GPS unit to monitor a prisoner under house arrest. A similar system can be used to monitor individuals under the new protections afforded domestic violence victims by Amanda's Law.
So who pays? The offender.
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To trigger the protective measure of GPS monitoring under Amanda's Law, there must be a "substantial" violation of a DVO, an order issued after the judge in the case has heard evidence from both sides. It is a tool judges can use to enforce their own orders. What else could judges do? They could find the violation in contempt and sentence the violator to jail. When that happens, the judge tells the violator that he can either go to jail or pay $10 a day to wear the ankle bracelet.
Rather than go to jail, the violator will find a way to come up with the money. The Administrative Office of the Courts has already approved a sliding payment scale to ensure equitable costs for all.
GPS has been used in private aviation for well over a decade. But the general population has been exposed to it only in the last few years, so it is understandable that some may fear using it. Any family-court judge, county judge-executive, jailer, district judge or official who will take a few minutes to listen to a vendor or visit a place where a GPS system is used, will quickly see the benefits and capabilities of GPS monitoring.
It works in all 120 counties and is already in use in many rural counties, including Floyd, Pike, Martin, Lewis, Magoffin and Lawrence.
So the technological hurdle is not a real issue. In fact, it's more of an "I don't care to learn" attitude that impedes application.
The article also said that Amanda Ross would not have been eligible for the protection of GPS monitoring. However, in her case, a DVO had been issued and a violation by Steve Nunn, who later killed her, had been reported to the court. Nunn admitted using violence in the relationship, so it presented the exact set of facts whereby the judge could have demanded he wear the ankle device, which would have warned Ross if he came within a certain distance of her, generally 500 feet.
She then would have had a fighting chance because she had obtained a conceal carry permit and purchased a personal firearm.
So is it going to take another tragic event to get those responsible for implementing this law out of their chairs and doing their jobs? Let's hope not. And by that same token, let's not accept their baseless excuses any longer. In states using GPS monitoring for protection of victims, there has not been a single homicide involving domestic violence victims to date, according to victims' advocates.
So will Kentucky be the first state to have such a law but allow a person's life to be taken by inaction?