BOSTON, Mass. — In the Massachusetts legal system, GPS tracking devices are primarily used as an alternative to incarceration before trial and for offenders on probation.
But too often people turn off their GPS devices and disappear.
That’s what happened recently when Stephen Corbin, accused of raping two teenagers, turned off his device in the middle of his trial and escaped for weeks.
Eventually, Corbin was located in Maine where he was found armed with a loaded gun.
Corbin was returned to Massachusetts and given a 40 to 50 year sentence for the rapes, but he received nothing for shutting off the GPS.
In Massachusetts, the penalty for shutting off a GPS is a misdemeanor.
Governor Charlie Baker, in his bill, seeks to make crime a crime.
I spoke to an abuse survivor we’ll call “Jo” who told me her abuser had never been punished for turning off her GPS tracking device either.
“My attacker wasn’t even charged with a misdemeanor, he just got away with it. All he had to do was get
it recovers. It sent him a message that he can do whatever he wants to do. They really reinforced it,” Jo said.
Jo is still afraid of her attacker, which is why she only agreed to a telephone interview with me.
Governor Baker travels across the state, listening to other survivors of domestic violence.
The governor’s bill also gives Massachusetts judges more leeway to determine which defendants are too dangerous to be released before trial.
Jo thinks the bill sends a powerful message to lawmakers about the need to protect women and victims of violent crime.
“Domestic violence is an all-time high,” Jo said. “It’s unheard of that men can just beat you up and abuse you and then turn off the GPS. The system really needs to be fixed.
Governor Baker hopes his bill will pass before the end of the current legislative session in July.
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