There’s new hope for victims of domestic violence. Maryland just passed 'Amber's Law,' which gives courts the right to order GPS monitoring for suspected abusers.
There are several companies offering new ways to keep track of suspected abusers.
“When this bracelet gets in close proximity to this application, then the victim would be alerted,” said Steve Hamilton of Track Group, waving a phone and one of his company’s anklet GPS trackers.
If abusers get too close to their victims, monitors can set off an alarm in the Track Group anklet. Victims can even talk to the offender. Monitoring like this might have saved Amber Schinault's life.
“She was scared to death,” said her mother, Angela Zarcone. “She got three restraining orders, changed her locks, went home one day to pack and move in with her brother, and he broke in and slashed her throat and killed her.”
Schinault's ex-boyfriend murdered her in her Prince George's County apartment five years ago, despite restraining orders that were supposed to keep him away.
“I thought I'd have grandchildren. I have four empty chairs. That could be four women we could have saved,” said Zarcone.
Amber's parents just helped push the law named for her through the Maryland General Assembly. It gives victims the right to ask for, and judges and court commissioners the right to order, 24-hour GPS monitoring for suspected abusers -- even before they go on trial.
What's remarkable is that it took a law to get Maryland moving in this direction. Neither the Montgomery nor Prince George’s Sheriff's Office said it's offering GPS monitoring right now. But the Montgomery Sheriff Darren Popkin said he's definitely looking into it.
Track Group even offers a phone app that can track both victim and suspect, and warn the survivor if their abuser is nearby.
“If the victim feels danger is imminent, they would push the panic button, and that would alert law enforcement immediately,” said Hamilton.
Some newer GPS monitoring anklets alert authorities if suspected abusers try to cut them off. Track Group said it offers a hardened steel case that would take an offender a half hour to hack off -- and by that time, police could be at his door.
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