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This is a long overdue addition to the tools to protect victims of stalkers, and it will improve the quality of life of those of us who have been stalked.  Thankfully, in my case, my two stalkers who were ex-boyfriends did not show any signs of violence.  And my female stalker, who was mentally ill, was frightened away when she attempted to break into my apartment, and fortunately didn’t come back.

 GPS devices monitor stalkers and alerts victims

Ontario PC Leader John Tory holds up a GPS-based criminal tracking bracelet during a campaign stop in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 28, 2007. (CP / Frank Gunn)Ontario PC Leader John Tory holds up a GPS-based criminal tracking bracelet during a campaign stop in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 28, 2007. (CP / Frank Gunn)

The Associated Press
 
Updated: Tue. Jul. 29 2008 9:25 AM ET

LANSING, Mich. — Mary Babb was in her SUV last year when her estranged husband slammed into her with his pickup truck. The crash overturned Babb’s vehicle and left her suspended upside-down by her seat belt.

As she hung there helplessly, Thomas Babb fired two rounds from a shotgun, killing his wife in front of horrified witnesses outside the office where she worked.

Now Babb’s family has lobbied successfully for Michigan to join a growing number of states that have expanded electronic monitoring to include domestic abusers and stalkers.

Before her death, the 30-year-old Babb had filed for divorce and moved out. She changed jobs and obtained a court order protecting her from her husband. But he kept following her.

“She did everything the law provided her, and it wasn’t enough,” said Mary Babb’s brother, Michael Anderson.

Michigan’s new law allows judges to order domestic violence suspects to wear GPS devices – even before they go to trial. The idea is to alert victims if alleged abusers are nearby. That measure joins another law signed this month by Gov. Jennifer Granholm that requires paroled prisoners who have been convicted of aggravated stalking to wear GPS tethers.

Authorities and victims will “know exactly where they are,” said Harvette Williams, 39, a former real estate agent who sought the law after being stalked for three years by a client. Her stalker was imprisoned in 2006, and will be monitored electronically if he’s paroled.

GPS devices have been used for years to monitor sex offenders. But technological advances have now made it possible for the systems to issue warnings by cellphone if the offender gets too close to a specific victim.

Massachusetts adopted a law last year that lets judges require electronic monitoring of people who violate personal protection orders. Michigan, Oklahoma and Hawaii followed suit this year with GPS laws, bringing to 11 the number of states with related measures, said Diane Rosenfeld, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who proposed the Massachusetts law.

Similar legislation is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois. The proposed law there is named for Cindy Bischof, who was gunned down in March by her ex-boyfriend at the suburban Chicago real estate office where she worked.

After Mary Babb’s death in 2007, authorities searched for technology that could call victims’ cellphones if offenders come within a certain distance or approached their home or office. Victims also receive a call when the offender leaves the area.

Protection orders traditionally have sought to protect victims in their homes, at work or their children’s school. But GPS technology now allows “zones” of protection to move with the victims if they wear a device.

“This returns some of the power and self-control of victims’ own lives back to them,” said Michigan Representative Bill Caul, a Republican who sponsored a GPS bill.

The GPS technology has limitations if there’s poor cellphone coverage, and zones have to be large enough so victims can be alerted in time to react. But the systems also help police corroborate whether an offender violated a protective order.

In response to Michigan’s new law, parole officers recently fitted GPS devices on 39 parolees who served prison time for aggravated stalking.

Authorities already had the option of ordering paroled stalkers to wear monitoring devices because nothing explicitly prohibited the practice. But advocates hope the new GPS laws raise awareness about the technology and encourage judges to use the monitoring devices in more domestic violence cases.

Thomas Babb, who pleaded no contest to murder and other charges, is serving a 52-to 77-year prison sentence in the slaying of his wife.

“This could happen to your niece or your daughter, or to your sister, your neighbour, your friend or even your mother,” said Mary Babb’s aunt, Paula Andresen of LeRoy. “No one deserves to live in such fear and terror. We have to do everything possible to change this, to make laws to protect the victims.”

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080729/GPS_victims_080729/20080729?hub=SciTech

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Yesterday afternoon, the power went out.  It was out for about four hours.  And I learned how reliant (how desperately, sadly reliant) I am on modern conveniences.

I couldn’t use the computer.  (Well, I could have until the battery died, but our internet provider was also down.  What’s the fun in that?)

I couldn’t turn on the tv (which I do watch far too much of), and I couldn’t even listen to the radio or some CDs.  We don’t have a radio that operates on batteries, and the boom box takes a lot of D batteries, which we don’t have.  (We will also be screwed if there’s ever a disaster, as we are completely lacking in the preparedness department.)

For the last few days, I’ve been binge reading, so I didn’t feel like reading.  It was raining outside, so that was out.  (Dannan is terrified he will melt in the rain, and if I’m going outside and can’t take him with me, then what’s the point?  Besides, he was freaky, so I wanted to stay close by.  And because he was so worried, I called B. and cancelled on him again.  He always understands, but really, the poor guy.)

I did end up reading until the light was too low to see the words on the page.  And I alternated that with trying to comfort the Very Spoiled Dog (VSD), trying to make him stop pacing and panting.  No luck with that, by the way;  the Rescue Remedy may have kept him at a manageable level of stress, but it only went away when the weather system was gone.

But I realized how dependent I am on electricity, television, commercially produced music, and all those other mod cons.  I felt lost;  what was I supposed to do with myself?  It was a great wake-up call;  now I just have to decide whether I really want to make any changes.  And the inertia that seems to define me will probably keep me in that reliant state.  But the first step in change is awareness, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Something was up in the atmosphere today, Dannan was panting and pacing like crazy.  Then it was pouring, thunder and lightning (or should I say, lightning and thunder?), and the very usual wind.  And finally, the power was out.  For hours.

I’m hazier than usual today, so I’m going to do some Unconscious Mutterings, courtesy of http://subliminal.lunanina.com.  It’s a few weeks old, but I’ve got some catching up to do.

Week 285

I say … and you think … ?

  1. Intimidated :: Bully
  2. Brush :: comb
  3. Masquerade :: party 
  4. Procedure :: operation
  5. Tattoos :: piercings
  6. Square :: round
  7. Tuck :: nip
  8. Boyfriend :: girlfriend 
  9. Badass:: nobody (WTF???)
  10. Thousand :: dollars

See you tomorrow, when I might try Manic Monday (http://manicmondaymeme.blogspot.com/).  And maybe try to figure out how to link rather than cutting and pasting urls.

Here I am, on the brink of this new endeavour, hoping I can keep my perfectionistic tendencies and my procrastination to a minimum.  I want to write, but my fears of not writing something fabulous keep me mute.  I don’t want to be mute;  I want to be brave, to fling myself off the cliff and not care whether I fly or crash into the rocks below.  I want to write for the sake of writing itself, and not care what others think of what I produce.  Lofty goals, indeed.

However, if I ever hope to reach the point of flinging, I have to start with the tiniest step forward.  I am hoping to make this blog my tiny step.  Ahhhh, my anxiety level is rising already!

I have another blog, which is about my Very Spoiled Dog (VSD), Dannan.  It can be found at http://littlebrowndogblog.blogspot.com.  I have found blogger to be quite frustrating, and I can’t do most of the things I’d like to do.  (Of course, I also have not bothered to read any instructions or looked for the “help” section;  as with many other things, I prefer to just start doing, hitting various keys, to see what happens.  This does not in any way reduce my prospects for frustration;  nor does it predict success at creating online what I envision in my head.  Yet, I persist.)

I am hoping that WordPress will be more amenable to what I like to call my “intuitive” computer approach.  We shall see.

On the Little Brown Dog Blog, I am trying to add photographs, since most people who read dog blogs want to see the dogs as much as (if not more) than to read about their antics.  I am an indifferent photographer (both in terms of innate talent, and in terms of desire to learn how to take better pics), so this blog probably won’t include many pictures.

(You will no doubt have gathered, dear Reader, that laziness is one of my defining characteristics.  Between my perfectionism, my procrastination, and my laziness, it is a wonder I accomplish anything at all.  So this experiment of mine will be multifunctional, helping me to overcome my natural inertia and providing me with a place to write where I will look silly (at least to myself) if I don’t write regularly.  The experiment will also provide me with a venue to challenge my procrastination and perfectionism.  I will write, and not think about polishing and obessive editing, with the purpose of training myself to just do it.  My therapist would be so proud.)

Finally, I must confess to a great act of thievery in naming my domain.  The Muse Asylumis a fantastic novel by David Czuchlewski.  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.  For any local readers, I have a copy you can borrow.  I liked the title so much, I plagiarized it.  Is outright theft of such a thing the sincerest form of flattery?  I suppose I will find out, if Mr. Czuchlewski ever stumbles across my blog and decides to sue. 

So I leave for now, hazy and crazy as ever.

Please visit Violence Unsilenced – Help end domestic violence and sexual assault

Writer’s Relief Blog

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I will post my Kreativ Blogger award here when I figure out how to do it!