State passes electronic monitoring bill

Makes removing a GPS monitoring device a third degree felony

A new law in the books could save and protect the lives of survivors of domestic violence.

State and local leaders say HB 75 closes a loophole that put domestic violence survivors and their families in danger. Law enforcement and judges now have an extra tool to protect victims from their offenders.

"This bill will help families, women, children from being destroyed," State Rep. Victor Torres said.

The new law makes it a third-degree felony if someone removes or tampers with a GPS monitoring device.

"This legislation truly, truly fills a gap that has existed with respect to the ability of judges to enforce their orders that require a person to have a GPS monitoring device," State Sen. David Simmons said.

Before the law, an offender could tamper or cut off their ankle bracelet and law enforcement would have to go to a judge first before going after the suspect to get a new order. Leaders say that time wasted put victims' lives in danger.

"It is critical that the victim be alerted immediately and it is critical that law enforcement be empowered to go after that person instantly. Anything short of that we are literally taking lives," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

Under the new law, officers can go after the offenders immediately.

"It gives us some certainty about the enforcement about judge's orders that wasn't there before," Judge Alice Blackwell with the Orange County Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Commission said.

Orange County and the corrections division is currently not using GPS monitoring devices. The program ended in 2013. There is no discussion of Orange County or the corrections division bringing back general electronic monitoring.

About the Author: