Among the new laws taking effect Thursday will be one allowing judges to authorize electronic monitoring for people who violate orders of protection.
The law, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed in August, gives judges the discretion to order a person charged with violating an order of protection to be connected to a global positioning system tracker. The law requires such tracking if the person is convicted.
Like many other laws protecting victims of violent crimes, it came at the expense of someone’s life. The successful Senate Bill 2719 is named after Cindy Bischof, who was gunned down this year in front of her Elmhurst real-estate office by an ex-boyfriend who then shot himself. He repeatedly had violated the orders of protection that Bischof had against him.
Turning Point Executive Director Jane Farmer hailed the new law.
“We have good laws in the state of Illinois,” Farmer said. “This is another area that is going to increase the likelihood of keeping people safe.”
State Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, was one of the co-sponsors of the bill. She said a long association with Turning Point, and knowing the stories of women who have passed through the shelter’s doors, prompted her to support the bill.
“I thought it was imperative that judges be given this discretion,” Althoff said. “There are certain circumstances where victims of domestic violence need more protection, and this gives judges more latitude.”
The law also requires people convicted of violating an order of protection to pay at least $200 more to fund the state program. A number of other states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma and Hawaii, have similar laws in place.
Farmer warned that people escaping abusive relationships still need to be vigilant. As for the law, an accused abuser first has to violate an order of protection for it to go into effect, and a judge might not require monitoring.
“The strongest thing I’ve been saying since this was going through the Legislature is that it still means you need to be connected to an agency like Turning Point,” Farmer said. “We are going to take safety planning and surroundings into account, and all of that can aid the safety of the victims and their family members.”