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Amanda’s Law to Track Offenders Poses Issues

The focus of the law lays mostly on the prevention of future criminal acts and/or court order violations by convicted domestic violence offenders. However, there may be some potentially problematic issues that come along with the new statute.

The law itself is named after and inspired by Amanda Ross, a 29-year-old who was shot outside her Lexington home in September, 2009. Former State Representative, Steve Nunn, who is also Ross’ ex-boyfriend, has since been charged with murder in her death and with violating a protection order.

At its base, Amanda’s Law grants judges across the state the discretionary authority to place Global Positioning Monitors (GPM) on convicted domestic violence offenders with the hopes of protecting the victims involved from future criminal acts. Much like the traceable ankle bracelets used for home incarceration, the monitors used through Amanda’s Law can tell authorities where an offender is at any given moment and whether they are near a location they are prohibited by court order from visiting (residence, school, place of work, etc.).  Additionally, victims of domestic violence acts will be able to obtain their own device, which will notify them if the respective offender is nearby.

However, one of the issues with the Amanda’s Law system is that the devices don’t properly function in certain areas of the state. For the most part, mountainous regions are currently one of the main problem factors as the signals from tracking satellites are partially blocked by the landscape.

State Representative, Brent Yonts, told iSurf News that, “There are certain parts of the state that you won’t have live reporting. It will record them, but until they get into a land line and plug it in, it won’t report it. It’s a new system, and it will take some time to work the bugs out. Everything new will be tweaked so that during the next session changes can be made.” The next session will be held in January, said Yonts.

Issues with how the monitoring devices will be paid for could potentially pose a problem as well, yet Yonts explained that, “The finances wouldn’t necessarily come from the county. A system they are working on with alcohol detection in vehicles requires that the sentenced individuals could be responsible for the bills. However, if the individual doesn’t have the money, there will likely be a fallback in that those who can afford to pay and have been sentenced to wearing the device will pay a little above the necessary amount to cover those who cannot afford it. Price will be elevated enough to those who can pay.”

iSurf News also spoke with local Madisonville Police Department Deputy, Scott Alexander, who noted that, “You know as well as I do, that we can put these ankle bracelets on them and track them, but we all know how criminals are—if they want them off they’re going to get them off. If they’re serious about trying to harm somebody, that bracelet’s not going to stop them from doing it. That’s just like the EPO orders that the judges issue against them. You know, it’s a piece of paper that says what the conditions are and that they are not allowed to violate them, but does it actually stop them from violating them? No. If they decide they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it.”

“It’s good that they try to come up with these new ideas and different tools for us to use,” said Alexander, “but you have to be realistic about it. Is it going to work? It may or may not.”

As of this time, Hopkins County has not implemented the Amanda’s Law system, yet before the monitoring devices are put into motion, the county has to decide how to use them as well as putting a bid out on the devices/system.

Luke Short
iSurf News



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Posted on 2/2/14
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