The Oklahoma Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday calling for the use of a global positioning system (GPS) to protect domestic abuse victims.
Authored by state Sen. Debbe Leftwich, Senate Bill 2163 uses available technology to better protect Oklahoma citizens.
The bill, according to Deedee Cox, executive director for the local Community Crisis Center, is a step in a new direction.
“We are delighted,” Cox said. “This is something we have been campaigning for.”
Leftwich said using all available resources and cutting-edge technologies to make Oklahoma safer is responsible government.
“I truly believe this law will provide a higher level of defense and protection to victims of domestic abuse and violence,” Leftwich said.
“Too many victims continue to be harassed and preyed upon even after successfully obtaining a court-issued restraining order against their abusers.”
“We are always looking at innovative solutions to domestic violence,” Cox said. “This is certainly a good step.”
Leftwich said the GPS devices, which will be issued by court order to violent offenders who have repeatedly violated protection orders, will automatically notify law enforcement officials, employers and the victim should a violent predator breach geographic boundaries set by the court.
“By utilizing this technology, victims of violent assault will have another way to defend themselves and regain control of their life,” Leftwich said. “When victims of domestic assault are chased away from their homes and jobs, they live in a constant state of fear from their abuser. The use of GPS will help protect them from further abuse.”
Offenders will also be responsible for the expense of the GPS bracelet, which is estimated to cost $4.50 per person per day.
The Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault reports there are about 25,000 domestic abuse calls every year in Oklahoma and victim service organizations, shelters and crisis centers saw more than 17,000 last year, including victims and their children.
Coalition Executive Director Marcia Smith said the bill could help prevent violence and abuse.
“Perpetrators use technology to stalk victims,” Smith said. “This legislation allows technology to be used as a protection mechanism.”
Cox said she has been working with the probation department to find creative ways of resolving the number of repeat offenses, with respect to domestic violence.