This New Bill Could Require Domestic Abusers to Wear GPS Trackers

The State House in Annapolis, Md. is seen before the opening of the 2012 Maryland General Assembly session begins Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

Sometimes the advances we’re making in technology can be used to save someone’s life.

A new law was passed on Monday in the Maryland House of Representatives that may require domestic violence suspects to wear GPS trackers which will alert survivors if they are in an area restricted by a judge. Wearing the GPS devices would be a condition or pretrial release or probation.

House Bill 1163, is also referred to as Amber’s Law, in memory of Amber Schinault, a 36-year-old woman who was killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend even though she had a protective order against him.

The GPS trackers would be ankle bracelets connecting to an app on the survivor’s smartphone. The survivor will get an alert if the person wearing the GPS tracker is in an area the court has ordered them to stay away from, such as the survivor’s home or job.

Angela Zarcone, Schinault’s mother, told NBC News she is pleased with the law.

“She can go about living her life and would know if the perpetrator became close to her, she has time to take care of her situation,” she said.

A sponsor of the legislation, Aruna Miller, told local TV station, WBAL-TV, “Amber and her family did everything that they were supposed to do. They got a protective order. They changed the locks on their home. They sat outside of their home keeping careful vigilance and, in fact, the police department was right around the corner from their home. Despite all of this, on July 22, 2012, Amber Shinault was brutally murdered by her attacker. He slashed her throat.”

The next step for the bill is it going to Maryland Governor Larry Horgan, where he will decide to sign it, veto it or allowing it to become a law without his signature.

If this bill becomes a law and is successful, it could possibly move on to other states.