By Jeffery M. Leving
Chicago, IL – The “Cindy Bischof Law” has the potential for victimizing innocent Illinois fathers and may spread nationwide. Governor Rod Blagojevich signed this legislation which became effective as law on January 1, 2009.
The Bischof Law is a draconian measure that will allow judges to order anyone, mostly men and fathers, to wear a GPS tracking device if they are simply considered to be at a high risk for domestic violence without being found guilty of any crime.
There is a presumption of guilt without the benefit of a trial, yet the foundation of our criminal justice system is that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Perhaps such a drastic measure would be warranted if the men forced to wear the devices had fair trials and were found to be guilty of violent or dangerous crimes.
However, the Bischof Law empowers judges with the ability to mandate the GPS tracking device on anyone who is accused of violating an order of protection without being convicted of the violation – and orders of protection are widely granted with minimal evidence of the potential for violence.
In the 1970s, orders of protection (also commonly referred to as “restraining orders”) became a tool to help protect battered women. However, in the rush to protect the abused, the rights of the accused have been violated on a large scale.
According to the Justice Department, two million restraining orders are issued in the United States.
The vast majority of these are related to domestic violence allegations, yet research shows these orders often do not even involve an accusation of actual violence. All that is needed to obtain an order is a claim that the person to be restrained “acted in a way that scared me” or was “verbally abusive” – what’s known as “shout at your spouse, lose your house.”
Such orders have become so commonplace that the Illinois Bar Journal calls them “part of the gamesmanship of divorce.”
Electronic tagging devices can be appropriate as a condition of parole or probation. The Cindy Bischof Law goes far beyond this, placing long-term electronic tags on men who have never been found guilty of any crime.