THE EAST »
Connecticut Hopes to Continue GPS Monitoring of
Domestic Violence Offenders
Connecticut officials are trying to figure out how to restart a successful pilot program designed to aid victims of domestic violence. The program used GPS monitoring devices to keep track of 119 high-risk offenders in Hartford, Danielson and Bridgeport, The Hartford Courantreported.
The program began in October 2010 and was funded by $140,000 in federal stimulus money. After the stimulus money dried up, the state was unable to continue the program. The last devices were placed on offenders in July 2011 and a GPS unit was taken off the last offender in March 2012 when his case was closed.
Connecticut House Speaker Christopher Donovan has created a task force to look for a solution to the funding problem. The Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, chaired by Rep. Mae Flexer, has been working with Congress to find federal funding to restart the program. It would require an estimated $2 million to expand the program statewide, according to The Hartford Courant.
Donovan said that while the state has been unsuccessful in securing federal funding, legislative staff has been studying ways to restart the program on a smaller level using state money.
A Connecticut judicial branch study showed the GPS monitoring program was successful.
“The program … led to apparent behavior change for defendants and an increase in victim safety,” the report stated.
Courts used an 11-question assessment form to determine offenders who were most likely to harm a domestic partner, according to Stephen R. Grant, director of family and juvenile services for Connecticut’s judicial branch.
Grant told The Harford Courant that offenders’ behavior was definitely affected by the monitoring devices.
“It’s literally, ‘Big Brother is watching.’ The hookup is a very intimidating process,” he said.
SUPREME COURT CONFIRMATION
Jim Bassett was confirmed in May as New Hampshire’s newest Supreme Court justice, the Union Leaderin Manchester reported. The seasoned lawyer’s nomination to the state’s highest court was questioned by conservative groups. The all-Republican Executive Council, however, voted 4-1 to approve Bassett’s appointment to the state’s highest court.
The New York Assembly approved in May a bill that would outlaw synthetic marijuana, bath salts and herbs with synthetic cannabinoids. According to the Albany Times Union, the Assembly’s bill differs slightly from a bill passed by the Senate in April. The penalty for the sale of synthetic marijuana would be a misdemeanor under the Assembly’s bill, while the Senate bill would make it a felony offense.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in June urged the legislature to pass his Justice Reinvestment Working Group’s prison reform recommendations, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg reported. The group’s proposals would save the state more than $263 million over the next five years. Recommendations include eliminating pre-release policies, limiting halfway houses to parolees only and increasing the efficiency of state agencies. Counties also would receive money to improve policing and probation at the local level.
Delaware Rep. Brad Bennett in May introduced House Bill 292 requiring new school employees to undergo a background check before being hired. According to the Dover Post, under the current law schools can conditionally hire a person pending the results of a background check. The present practice was called into question in early 2012 when Dover’s Capital School District board members were asked to approve hiring several teachers before their background checks were complete.
SEAT BELT ENFORCEMENT
Vermont law enforcement stepped up its seat belt enforcement monitoring in May as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign, the Burlington Free Press reported. Tom Fields, law enforcement liaison with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, said 17 of the 30 motor vehicle fatalities in the state this year have involved people not wearing seat belts. State and local police closely monitored motorists for seat belt compliance throughout the campaign, which ran through June 30.