GPS Monitoring Technologies and Domestic Violence: An Evaluation Study

GPS Monitoring Technologies and Domestic Violence: An Evaluation Study
National Institute of Justice
Edna Erez, Peter R. Ibarra, William D. Bales, & Oren M. Gur
GPS Monitoring Cover

This study examined the use of Global Positioning System technology to monitor compliance with court-mandated “no contact” orders in domestic violence cases. The study also determined the effectiveness of GPS as a form of pretrial supervision in DV cases compared to other pretrial supervision conditions. The findings show the use of GPS affects behavior over both the short and long terms. The short-term impact was associated with no contact attempts; defendants enrolled in GPS monitoring had fewer program violations compared to those placed in traditional electronic monitoring (EM), which uses radio frequency technology.

The long-term impact involves monitoring house arrest remotely, but without tracking. Seemingly, GPS tracking increases defendants’ compliance with program conditions compared to those who are monitored for presence at a particular location (usually the home) but are not tracked for all locations. The study used a quasi-experimental design, and the sample included more than 3,600 defendants across three sites. Defendants enrolled in the Midwest GPS program had a lower probability of being rearrested for a DV offense during the 1-year follow-up period compared to a comparison group of defendants who had been in a non-GPS condition (e.g., in jail, in an EM program or released on bond without supervision). In another study site, those placed on GPS had a lower likelihood of arrest for any criminal violation within the 1-year follow-up period. In a third site, however, no impact from participation in GPS monitoring was found. The authors speculate that the diversity of the defendants placed on GPS monitoring in the third site, and a different method used for selecting the sample of defendants, may explain the anomaly.