GPS To Warn Domestic Violence Victims

This week, the governor of Illinois signed legislation that will allow the state's judges to tag domestic violent offenders with GPS tracking devices. The abusers' victims will get monitors that warn them if their attacker is in the area. Alex Chadwick talks with Michael Bischof, who spearheaded the movement to pass the bill after his sister's death.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, spelunking in Arkansas, it's part of our vacations-close-to-home series, but first...

CHADWICK: This week, Illinois enacted a law that will allow judges in the state to order domestic-violence offenders to wear a special kind of tracking device. The law is named for Cindy Bischof. She's a woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend earlier this year. We're joined by her brother Michael who has been lobbying for victims' rights. Michael Bischof, welcome to Day to Day. This device, it's called a Cindy Bracelet after your sister. What is it?

Mr. MICHAEL BISCHOF: That's correct, Alex, and thank you for having me. Essentially, my sister lobbied through the courts at the time that she was going through the judicial system for the judge to require her offender - her ex-boyfriend, that is - to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet to track his whereabouts relative to her whereabouts. It had been a nine-month period in which she lived in constant fear, with a monitoring alarm, a cell phone, Mace, and her car keys with her at all times, even when she was in the shower . The GPS monitoring bracelet will be a way to enable the victim to gain back some of their freedom, and put the onus on the offender to be careful of their own whereabouts.

CHADWICK: Well, this sends out a signal, and then the victim of the abuse has a kind of a receiver, so you can tell if the abuser gets within a certain distance.

Mr. BISCHOF: That is correct. The courts will be setting up what are called exclusion zones that will be predefined and will be communicated to both the offender and the victim, so that the offender knows exactly where they can or cannot reside relative to the victim's home or place of work. At the point at which the offender may pierce through one of those exclusion zones, an alert would be sent off and can be up to 20 different entities alerting them as to the violation, including the victim, as well as the offender themselves.

CHADWICK: Michael, what difference would this bracelet have made for your sister?

Mr. BISCHOF: My sister was gunned down at work on a Friday afternoon at four o'clock. The offender was waiting across the street in disguise for her to come out of her work, and as she approached her car in the parking lot, less than 50 yards away from her front door, he shot her three times, gunned her down, and then turn the gun on himself. She would have been given warning that he was within a certain proximity of her.

CHADWICK: Haven't they had these kinds of locator bracelets for people before, so that you know where they are?

Mr. BISCHOF: They have, not in domestic-violence situations, other than house-arrest situations, where you're trying to keep someone within a certain area - in the past, to our knowledge, they've always been with child predators and hardcore criminals, as well as dead-beat fathers.

CHADWICK: What kinds of civil-liberties questions do you think you'd run into with this?

Mr. BISCHOF: The fact that this technology cannot be mandated by the judges in the courts until after the offender violates an order of protection gives that offender, I believe, their liberties to the point of which they have then lost their liberties, by violating a court order of protection.

CHADWICK: This is a new kind of a twist on these alert devices, at least I haven't heard of it before. How did you come up with the idea? That is, to exclude people from an area rather than keep them confined?

Mr. BISCHOF: Include - the idea is my sister's - was my sister's. And that's what makes this so special. She had asked the judges, for them to require her offender to wear these bracelets.

CHADWICK: She thought of this idea?

Mr. BISCHOF: She thought of this idea and took it to the courts. She was known as the woman with the wish list that came to court with outside-the-box ideas to help save her life. With her being my sole sibling, it's additional inspiration and motivation to have her pass me the torch and say, take this and run with it so that others won't be affected like I have.

CHADWICK: From Barrington, Illinois, Michael Bischof operates the Cynthia F. Bischof Memorial Foundation, which aims to help domestic-violence victims. Michael, thank you.

Mr. BISCHOF: Thank you, Alex

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