Gov. Abbott wants GPS tracking on all domestic violence suspects
SAN ANTONIO -- Governor Greg Abbott has come out with a $40 million plan to combat sex crimes across our state, and one part of it would require GPS tracking of all domestic violence suspects from the moment they make bail.
The governor wants to track suspects long before they might be convicted. But some wonder if that’s legal and if it would give domestic abuse victims a false sense of security.
"Anytime that a politician raises the issue and raises awareness of domestic violence, it’s a good thing,” said Marta Palaez.
Pelaez has run Battered Women and Children’s Shelters in San Antonio for two decades. She's seen abused women come and go through her programs.
"Your whole world as you knew it up to that point is no longer there," Palaez explained.
Governor Greg Abbott pledged his support for survivors Tuesday in Houston. His recommendation: expand GPS monitoring to include domestic violence suspects. But only those suspects who a judge decides pose a severe threat to their victims. He says that's so victims wouldn't have to hide in shelters while the defendant is out on bail or awaiting trial.
"You are innocent until proven guilty," said Jason J. Jakob.
Jakob, a constitutional lawyer, has some concerns over the recommendation.
"Who’s monitoring that information? Who’s not?" asked Jakob.
Jakob says GPS monitoring of suspects has been allowed in certain cases, and he wants to keep it that way - only on a case-by-case basis.
"This is your constitutional right of travelling, and your constitutional right of basically not having a warrantless search," added Jakob.
And although Pelaez is happy to see domestic violence prevention on the forefront of the Governor’s campaign, she has some worries about the GPS tracking idea as well. She’s afraid it may offer a false sense of security to victims.
"While it sounds like everything should be good, and it would be good, there’s still a conversation to be had," Paleaz told us.
Governor Abbott wants to use grant money to pay for GPS tracking of domestic violence suspects. He also wants $14 million in next year's budget to make a dent in the states backlogged rape kits.