USA: Three States Strengthen Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
Thursday, July 8, 2010 11:40 AM

Alabama, Connecticut and Kentucky recently passed legislation to improve the protections available to victims of domestic violence. In Kentucky and Connecticut, GPS tracking devices will be used, while in Alabama, protection orders will become available to a greater number of victims.

The Kentucky law, passed during the 2010 legislative session, provides judges with the authority to order individuals involved in domestic violence cases to wear ankle monitors with a GPS device, enabling law enforcement authorities to better protect victims of domestic violence.

The Connecticut legislation establishes a pilot program, which will be initiated in three cities in October.  The program will require domestic violence offenders to wear a GPS monitoring device. When an offender wearing the device comes within a certain distance, his or her victim will receive a cell phone alert. In addition to this pilot program, the legislation calls for domestic violence shelters to be open twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week, and establishes public service announcements and school curriculum on the subject of teen dating violence.

The Alabama legislation, which will go into effect on July 8, 2010, widens the scope of the protection from abuse act to include those in a dating relationship of six months and individuals eighteen years of age and older. Previously, the only relationships recognized by the statute were those involving marriage, divorce, common-law marriage, previous cohabitation, and those between the parents of a child; individuals were also required to be at least nineteen years of age to file for a protective order. The law further calls for victims’ contact information to be removed from court documents. J.B. Ward, who aids domestic violence victims in Madison County, predicts that broadening the scope of the protection order law will greatly increase the number of protective orders filed, noting that hundreds are currently filed in the county every year.