This study analyzed the use of bilateral electronic monitoring (BEM) technology in redefining and transforming domestic violence victims’ homes into a safe haven, a shelter.
The use of bilateral electronic monitoring (BEM) in response to domestic violence incidents offers a case in point of broader changes in the justice system’s relationship to crime victims. The new model recasts the justice system into a provider of services to victims. The addition of a bilateral component to a unilateral electronic monitoring program represents a shift away from a strategy focused on a generalized public’s safety, towards one directed at keeping a specific victim safe, reflecting the modeling importance accorded to the uncoupling of the victim from the public. Also, the BEM programs under study are directly concerned with the victim’s emotions. They offer relief to victims who express fear of an alleged or convicted abuser. They promote the idea that a victim’s home can and should be her safe haven, and that she need not enter a battered woman’s shelter in order to function in everyday life. The BEM program also creates opportunities for victims to interact with personnel in the system, encouraging victims to become actively involved, by participating in the backstage schemes that build up a case. Battered women’s shelters or safe houses emerged out of feminist activism directed at domestic violence as a social problem. However, shelters marginalize and perpetuate the invisibility of victims. Shelters cause a major uprooting during a period of emotional upheaval. A need is expressed for broader shifts in the criminal justice system towards more victim-centered premises and practices. This study sample consisted of 30 victims, as well as 22 justice professionals in contact with victims, who were enrolled in BEM programs for offenders convicted of or facing domestic violence-related offenses. References
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