Offenders

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  • A Wisconsin state representative proposed a bill to require repeat domestic abuse offenders to wear a GPS-type tracking device.
  • Nicknamed "Cindy's Law," it will also make the offenders pay for the necessary equipment.
  • A domestic violence expert said this will deter criminals from attacking, but more is still to be done regarding these types of crimes.

A Wisconsin lawmaker proposed legislation to require repeat domestic abuse offenders to wear a tracking device.

The device would alert law enforcement officials when the offender violates the court order against him or her. As it's written, the offender would have to foot the bill, costing taxpayers nothing.

The bill is known as "Cindy's Law," named after Cindy Bischof, an Illinois woman who in March 2008 was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who shot her outside her office. The boyfriend had twice been arrested and prosecuted for violating a restraining order.

State representative Scott Suder, a Republican out of Abbotsford, helped draft the bill.

"The intent is to give victims an immediate alert anytime an abuser violates their protective order," Suder said.

Under Cindy's Law, victims would carry a cell phone, pager or other device to warn them that the offender has breached the prohibited space, Suder said.

"The moment they go near their victim, the victim is notified and law enforcement is notified," Suder said. "So it's a dual barrier."

Bischof's cousin, Pamela Travis of Neillsville, Wis., said Bischof took every precaution to protect herself from her ex-boyfriend.

"She used everything that she could use," Travis said. "Every means that was available to protect herself and he was still able to get to her, from getting the restraining orders to hiding out. At her company Christmas party she even had security."

Though a tracking device may not have saved her cousin, Travis said she, along with the rest of their family and friends, is a definite advocate for the bill.

"We don't know for sure if it would have saved her, but it maybe would have made her aware that he was so close," Travis said.

"Maybe it'll help someone else," she said. "If it helps one person, that's enough."

Alexis Moore, a domestic violence expert and radio show host, said she's hopeful that legislation like Cindy's Law will help deter offenders.

"The use of GPS monitoring would definitely help to provide a victim with some protection," said Moore. "And when it is a matter of life or death, some protection is always better than no protection at all."

If the bill passes, however, the job isn't finished. Enforcement of the law will be what really matters, Moore said.

"Cindy's Law must be implemented properly and utilized to help save lives," she said.

A similar bill was unanimously passed in Illinois last year. Wisconsin's version of the bill coincides with a recent report that 40 percent of Milwaukee's homicides this year have been related to domestic violence.

The bill includes language that would make the offender pay for all costs related to his or her tracking. The estimated cost of a tracking system is $200. Suder said it's important to refrain from putting the burden on taxpayers.

Suder said he didn't anticipate any objections to the bill.

"If someone wants to challenge it," he said. "Bring it on."

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