Fathers & Families Announces Opposition to Lt. Gov’s Dog-collar Bill

(PRWEB) February 24, 2005

Boston, MA, February 23, 2005. Fathers & Families, a non-profit organization of 2,000 men and women in Massachusetts who support equal rights and responsibilities for mothers and fathers after divorce, today announced its opposition to Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey’s proposed “Act Relative to Enhanced Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence.” Under this bill, any violator of a domestic restraining order could be required to wear a satellite tracking device similar to an electronic dog-collar. The device would signal authorities whenever the wearer came within range of certain exclusion zones, such as the complainant’s home or workplace.

Massachusetts courts issue around 40,000 domestic restraining orders each year. Many of these are bogus. For instance, Attorney Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, wrote, “The facts have become irrelevant. Everyone knows that restraining orders…are granted to virtually all who apply… In many cases, allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage” [in divorce]. And the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has tacitly agreed with this view by writing that we must “resist a culture of summarily issuing and extending these orders.” Most violations of restraining orders are non-violent, such as placing a telephone call about a sick child.

According to Dr. Ned Holstein, President of Fathers & Families, the bill is “a Robocop nightmare.” “Getting tough on crime always makes a good sound bite, until you look at the details. This bill takes Massachusetts down the slippery slope towards a police state, subjecting non-violent offenders to 24/7 surveillance, humiliation, and false alarms due to inaccurate devices and outdated exclusion zones. It piles on still more penalties for non-violent offenders, while doing nothing about the tens of thousands of innocent men who labor under fraudulent restraining orders. Finally, it diverts resources from those who really need protection, as police race to the sites of trivial, accidental or non-violent infractions.”

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