Local News

Ankle Bracelets Could Save Lives, Pitt County Deputies Say

Posted June 2, 2005 7:10 a.m. EDT

— A move to curtail repeat cases of domestic violence using technology could save lives, Pitt County deputies believe.

They are lobbying the governor's Crime Commission to fund a pilot project to track domestic violence suspects before they go to trial.

The sheriff's office already uses a mobile electronic monitoring system to free up jail space. Deputies track various suspects including deadbeat dads.

"We have had numerous successful people who have never paid child support that are getting child support payments now," said Dep. Robin Abbott.

With the device, an ankle bracelet, deputies can track a suspect's position 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the suspect makes a wrong move, law enforcement and the victim will be notified.

Deputies argue pretrial monitoring would not violate suspect rights. They say the same restrictions are imposed when released on bond. The only difference is that law enforcement could make sure suspects comply.

Last year, 81 killings in North Carolina were attributed to domestic violence. The latest was on May 16, when Raleigh police said Michael Massenburg chased down his wife's minivan and killed her with his bare hands. Dujuana Massenburg had two restraining orders out against her husband at the time and Michael Massenburg was awaiting trial for previously assaulting his wife.

Like the Massenburg case, 26 percent of those homicides were committed while the suspect was on pretrial release for domestic violence.

"If you prevent the access of the offender to the victim, you will prevent a death," said Sgt. John Guard of the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.

In Massenburg's case and many others, however, preventing that access, when bond is posted, can be close to impossible, deputies said.