Suffolk County

Baker bill seeks to toughen penalties for cutting GPS tracking devices

BOSTON, Mass. — In the Massachusetts legal system, GPS tracking devices are mostly used as an alternative to incarceration before trial, and for offenders on probation.

But too often, people cut off their GPS devices and disappear.

That’s what happened recently when Stephen Corbin, accused of raping two teenagers, cut off his device in the middle of his trial and escaped for weeks.

Eventually Corbin was located in Maine where he was found armed with a loaded gun.

Corbin was returned to Massachusetts and received a 40-50 year sentence for the rapes, but he received nothing for cutting the GPS.

In Massachusetts, the penalty for cutting a GPS is a misdemeanor.

Governor Charlie Baker, in his bill, is seeking to make the crime a felony.

I spoke to an abuse survivor we’ll call “Jo” who told me her abuser also was never punished for cutting off his GPS tracking device.

“My abuser wasn’t even charged with a misdemeanor, he just totally got away with it. All he had to do was get

it put back on. It sent a message to him that he can do whatever he wants to do. They really empowered him,” said Jo.

Jo is still afraid of her abuser, that’s why she only agreed to a phone interview with me.

Governor Baker is traveling across the state, hearing from other domestic violence survivors.

The Governor’s bill also allows Massachusetts judges more leeway in determining which defendants are too dangerous to release before trial.

Jo believes the bill is a powerful message to lawmakers about the need to protect women and victims of violence crime.

“Domestic violence is an at all-time high,” Jo said. “It’s unheard of that men can just hit you and abuse you, and then cut off the GPS. The system really needs to be fixed.”

Governor Baker is hoping to have his bill passed before the current legislative session ends in July.

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