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Our View: Useful tool in fight against domestic violence

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

An order of protection on a sheet of paper can be quite worthless when you think about it.

Just ask the family of Diane Kephart, who obtained an order of protection against her ex-boyfriend after he pinned her down, held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her. A month later, with an order of protection against him, he killed Kephart.

Or ask the Crystal Lake woman who was recently held hostage in her mother’s home by an ex-boyfriend despite having an order of protection out against him. Thankfully, she and her mother escaped without harm. Police shot and killed the ex-boyfriend after he shot at officers.

Ask the countless others in our communities who have order of protections taken out against an abusive partner only to see them ignored, leaving them fearful for their well-being.

Domestic violence is a serious crime. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24 people per minute, on average, are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. Nearly, 15 percent of women have been injured as a result of intimate partner violence that included rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Too often, such behavior results in death. More needs to be done to protect people from domestic violence. That’s why we support legislation introduced by state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, that would change the criminal code to provide that judges, as a condition of bond, can place GPS monitoring devices on defendants charged with a slew of violent crimes.

The option to use GPS monitoring as a condition of bond is already available to judges, but it is rarely used, said criminal defense attorney Ed Donahue, whom Wheeler consulted to help write the bill (HB3744).

“The law makes it incumbent upon the judge determining bond to make a finding whether it’s appropriate [to order GPS monitoring],” Donahue said.

Wheeler’s bill has added a number of co-sponsors, including Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo. It is sitting in the House’s Rules Committee, which is expected to hear testimony on it this month or in February.

We urge lawmakers to quickly move through the process and vote Wheeler’s bill into law. Lives are at stake.

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