If you haven’t yet read The Post and Courier’s “Till death do us part” series of stories on domestic violence in South Carolina, which won a Pulitzer Prize this year, you should. The opening paragraph sets the tone for the series with a shocking statistic: “More than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse.”
It goes on to say that while “state officials have long lamented the high death toll for women, lawmakers have put little money into prevention programs and have resisted efforts to toughen penalties for abusers.”
The piece is both disturbing and eye-opening, and while South Carolina is different from both New York and the smaller communities of Suffolk County, domestic violence is still a complex issue, and we commend our representatives for not just standing by.
The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a pilot program on Tuesday that would provide 30 new GPS tracking devices for family court judges to assign to offenders with an order of protection against them. The program would also allow victims of domestic violence — if they so choose — to wear their own tracking devices so they may be alerted if an offender is near them.
The legislation is the latest brought forth by Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and continues to strengthen county laws relating to domestic violence.
While some may question the use of tracking devices, giving the discretion to judges allows us to evaluate each case on an individual basis. That would hopefully limit the GPS system to the most dangerous offenders and prevent us from violating anyone’s constitutional rights. And 30 devices is a small number when looking at the bigger picture — in 2013, there were more than 1,500 violations of orders of protection in Suffolk County.
If assigned appropriately, carefully and conservatively, the devices could help give domestic violence victims a new sense of safety and freedom to live their lives.