Our favorite little feminist, Amanda Marcotte has an article up at Slate extolling the virtues of programs that use GPS to monitor domestic violence (alleged) offenders, and to the surprise of no one, she of course assumes all the accused are men and all the victims are women. Naturally, her story is illustrated with the proverbial pretty white woman splattered with blood.
In theory, domestic homicide should be easy to prevent, since men who kill their wives or girlfriends (85 percent of victims are female) generally give us lots of warning by beating, stalking, and even raping their victims, usually for years before they finally kill.
One of the commenters at Slate takes her to task with her assertion that it’s only ever men who kill women, quoting from Warren Farrell, in “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say” (1999).
On the surface, the Bureau of Justice reports women are the perpetrators in 41 percent of spousal murders. However, the male method of killing is with a knife or gun, done by himself; it is easily detected and reported. The three female methods of killing are designed not to be detected, to have the man’s death appear as an accident, so insurance money can be collected.
The first mostly-female method is poisoning. The second is the wife hiring a professional killer. The third is the wife persuading a boyfriend to do the killing.
These last two methods, IF discovered, are never listed by the FBI as a woman killing a man. They are listed, rather, as “multiple -offender killings. We only know that IN MULTIPLE-OFFENDER KILLINGS THERE ARE FOUR TIMES AS MANY HUSBAND VICTIMS THAN WIVES, according to the FBI. That is, the 41 percent figure does not include either of those female methods of killing.
How common are multiple-offender, usually contract, killings? We don’t know. Perhaps the best hint we have of how many husbands could be killed by contract comes from the FBI, reporting that some 7800 MEN WERE KILLED WITHOUT THE KILLER EVER BEING IDENTIFIED (vs. 1500 women). This number is ALMOST NINE TIMES LARGER THAN ALL OF THE WIVES KILLED BY SPOUSES AND EX-SPOUSES PUT TOGETHER. However, this “nine times as many” figure is a very inadequate hint since many of these men were doubtless killed by other men, and many are unmarried. It just gives us an understanding that multiple-offender killings must be considered before we can claim that more men murder wives than vice-versa.
Most important, of the hundred or so contract killings about which I have read, only a small percentage were originally recognized as such. The very purpose in hiring a professional, as with poisoning, was to have the husband’s death appear as an accident so the wife can collect the insurance money.”
And let’s not overlook the fact that even when women are FILMED BY POLICE trying to hire a hit man to kill their husbands, they are not convicted of any offence.
Some women think organizing their husband’s death because it’s “easier than divorce and I want the insurance money” is just a giggly good walk in the park.
I wanted to know more about exactly who is enrolled in the GPS monitoring programs, and I found this very interesting study, funded by the Department of Justice. The details are not just shocking, they’re very, very disquieting.
Here’s what happens: someone (usually a man) gets arrested for domestic violence. Rather than remain in jail until trial, or post a bond, he can agree to wear a GPS tracking device which will monitor him and alert the police when he enters forbidden zones. He has to pay a fee for that option, and agree to the conditions.
In this report, a total of 3656 defendants who accepted GPS monitoring were studied.
In the mid-west region, 92.2% of the defendants were male (p. 62). In the west region, 95.5% of the defendants were male (p. 75). In the southern region, 83.6% of the defendants were male (p. 84).
Let’s look first at conviction rates: for all the charges laid, how many defendants were subsequently convicted?
Midwest? 40.7 % conviction rate
West? 57.1 % conviction rate
South? 46.7 % conviction rate
The researchers found that yes, GPS monitoring did indeed have both a long term and a short term impact on whether a defendant was re-arrested between the arrest and trial period.
Could that possibly be because in two regions less than HALF of the charges had any evidence whatsoever to support the charge, and barely more than HALF could be proven in the other region?!?
The DV allegations were either false, unprovable or so mired in mutual violence as to be unpursuable.
If you begin with the assumption that most domestic violence is mutual, then the simple act of keeping the warring partners apart will reduce any subsequent charges and accusations. In a way, the report DOES acknowledge that DV tends to be mutual, but the spin they put on that is really quite astonishing.
The context of domestic violence is often fraught with claims and counter-claims by estranged partners. Justice personnel at times become enmeshed in intimate partners’ conflicts, as one party – often more experienced with the system – attempts to use court procedures and restrictions to harass or drain the other. The justice system often struggles to sort out disputes about who is the abuser and who is the victim, a struggle in which an experienced abuser may have an advantage in comparison to a less experienced victim. In an especially troubling scenario, GPS technology may become one more tool that unscrupulous parties can use to “punish” their adversary.
Thus, some victims described how their abuser managed to turn circumstances in his favor, resulting in the victim being placed on GPS. As described in the section on defendants’ experiences, victims as offenders – victims whose abusers succeeded in turning the tables against them and having them placed on GPS – were found among the female defendants who were interviewed.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! Hardly any women are ever arrested for DV in the first place, and even fewer are convicted.
The idea that judges can be manipulated into placing women on GPS monitoring when really it’s the women who are the victims is laughable. My guess would be that the evidence for abuse when it’s women who are charged is OVERWHELMING. So much so that judges can’t issue the standard pussy pass.
But the report still wants us to see women as “victims”. Poor victims. So abused that the courts have ordered the women to stay away from their male partners.
For some men, the GPS monitoring had a positive effect, forcing them to disentangle themselves from dysfunctional relationships and providing structure and routine to their lives.
Although most defendants remain resentful of the restrictions that they must observe in order to remain in good standing with their case manager, some clients in these GPS programs spoke of the benefits of being on GPS. Positive aspects include acquiring a newfound appreciation for the comforts of home, feeling relieved of pressure to be “on the street” every night, thus helping in the severing of ties with “bad company,” i.e., those who participate in activities that introduce legal jeopardy for someone who has “caught a case.” These defendants may see their tenure with the program as an opportunity, in fact, using it to spur themselves toward altering their ordinary practice, thereby marking a turning point in their lives.
It may entail something as simple as finally finishing a home improvement project; it may involve something more emotionally rewarding, such as renewing ties with one’s parents or other important persons who otherwise the client would have found little reason to spend time with. References to this moment as a “wake up call,” for example, were not uncommon in interviews.
In particular, the experience may lead some defendants to ruminate on patterns in their interpersonal relations with women. In other cases, defendants may see their estranged partner in a new light that is less favorably disposed toward continuing the relationship once their tenure in the program is completed.
In plenty of other cases, the effect was anything but positive.
You know, it’s just, I, I think that’s just part of the stress that I’m under. I’m not able to sleep at night. Ah, you know, I’m constantly making sure that this thing can [get a signal], and I’ll even so much as point it at a window, pull the antennae out to make sure that, you know, if I have to prop it on a pillow so it lays at an angle, I mean, I get a little, just, emphatic about it, which, I’m sure, it doesn’t have to be. I mean, I think whatever signal it picks up in, in realistic concepts, it’s going to pick it up no matter what.
I have a hundred and fifty tenants that we take care of. You know, if any one of those tenants knows what happened, the charges that I got, they might not want me in their suite. And if they don’t want me in their suite, you know, word gets around and I don’t have a job.
Yea, so I would definitely have a lot less stress, absolutely. And I definitely would be, have a lot less stress on a daily basis, an hourly basis of making sure this thing can read a signal somewhere, but still being able to carry out my job and make sure I’m leading this group of people through a successful night at work. So, yea, absolutely, there’s definitely a huge amount of stress just by having this thing that, that is completely unjust.
Keep in mind in two jurisdictions less than HALF of the men subjected to this level of anxiety and control will be convicted of any offense at all.
It all sounds so good on the surface: yeah, let’s keep these violent people away from their victims and allow everyone to go about their life with some semblance of sanity.
In reality, GPS monitoring is an unprecedented use of technology by the state to control the movements and curtail the freedoms of mostly men. The majority of whom will never be convicted of the offence for which they are charged.
That’s a nice weapon to put in women’s arsenal, isn’t it? A woman can charge a man with domestic violence, have him arrested, force him to choose between being in jail or having his whereabouts constantly monitored (which he gets to pay for out of his own pocket), forbid areas of his community to him, forbid access to his children, delay court dates and trials and eventually, have the charges dismissed or acquitted.
Gee, what could possibly be wrong with that scenario?
Does GPS monitoring “work”? Depends what you mean by “work”. It certainly has a dramatic effect on the people subjected to the monitoring, most of whom are men. And it’s not all negative.
Defendants reported having both positive and negative experiences during their time on GPS, viewing it as “a mixed bag.” Most felt it was far preferable to “sitting in jail” and were grateful that participation enabled them to maintain their employment. They also appreciated the fact that GPS shielded them from false accusations that could be (and in some cases were) made by a vengeful estranged partner. Defendants at a more treatment-oriented site spoke of being thankful for the various kinds of assistance they received from supervising officers. Defendants also spoke about using their time in the program, and away from the alleged victim, as an opportunity to engage in various constructive pursuits, including rebuilding relations with family members, looking for work, returning to school, and reimagining their lives without the victim having a part in it.
Does it work to prevent domestic violence from turning into homicide? If Washington, D.C. is anything to go by, nope.
“If someone has access to a gun and motive, we can’t prevent them,” Keenan said. “Technology by itself is not a cure for illegal conduct.”
GPS doesn’t deter someone bent on murder – it is used against individuals who will go on to either be acquitted or have the charges filed against them dismissed, it curtails the freedom of defendants severely and may violate a number of different civil liberties, including the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure.
What worries me the most about the use of GPS tracking in domestic violence cases is not that it is applied mostly to men (although that is troubling). It’s the fact that researchers, even when confronted with women who are abusers, refuse to acknowledge that sometimes it’s men who need protection from women.
…although it happens infrequently, men do seek out protection orders against women. The implication of these trends is that women are becoming likelier candidates for EM programs as tethered parties, raising questions about how women fare in programs designed with male batterers in mind.
Women …. Candidates, tethered parties….
Men … Batterers
And how will the poor little girl duckies fare under a program designed with the assumption that only men abuse?
Even when women abuse, they are still deserving of our sympathy and attention. The snowflake, she is special! Even a program designed to keep her away from the man she is abusing must be designed with her needs in mind.
Even when women abuse, they’re still the victims.
That pretty white woman splattered with blood? Don’t be so quick to assume it’s her own. It could be from the man she just hit with a baseball bat. But don’t worry.
She won’t be convicted of any crime. Not even if she kills him.
And she sure as hell won’t have to wear a GPS tracking device.
They’re not very comfortable, you know. Her ankle might get sore. And it totally ruins a great pair of shoes. Can’t have that, now can we?
Lots of love,