- State of South Dakota Legislature
- United States of America
Morgan Myers was a vibrant young woman, who at the age of 30 had her life and the life of her unborn child taken from her.
She left behind four young children, three sisters, two brothers and many family members and friends who feel her loss keenly. Morgan was granted a permanent protection order from an ex-boyfriend just six days before she was brutally stabbed to death in the busy parking lot of a Walmart store. If the assailant’s relevant history had been shared with Morgan or if she had been offered the protection of location devices, she would very likely still be with us.
The aim of Morgan’s law would be two-fold: mandate release of pertinent and valuable information to individuals filing protective orders and allow, at the Court’s discretion, wearing of location-detecting devices to facilitate a higher level of protection.
The release of pertinent and valuable information to individuals filing protective orders is essential to their safety and facilitates smart decision-making on the part of the victim. This information should include the following, at a minimum:
• Any previous protection orders filed against the same individual
• Any previously violated protection orders
• Previous convictions for domestic violence, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, battery, property destruction, harassment, stalking etc.
Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds. Protection orders can provide a false sense of security. Nearly 20% of all domestic homicides occur during a time where the victim had a restraining order against the killer. In 2008 a study noted that one-fifth of female intimate partner homicide victims who had a restraining order were killed within two days of the order being issued; about one-third were killed within a month.
Morgan’s Law would like the Court to determine cases where an electronic monitoring device would likely deter a subject from seeking to kill, injure, stalk or otherwise threaten the person requesting the order. These devices would alert authorities when the attacker is within proximity of off-limit locations. These devices could have a profound impact on the safety and security of victims. They would allow police the ability to monitor and notify victims as well as prosecute repeat violators of protection order requirements. The expense involved for both equipment and monitoring is minimal, between $10 and $25 per day, certainly a valid expense when the alternative is the loss of life. In many states the system is set up so the aggressor pays the cost. If he cannot afford the device, it is typically covered by witness protection funds; the burden does not fall on the victim or the taxpayers. Similar laws currently exist in 12 states.
We ask that criminal history, especially the violation of previous protection orders be disclosed to protection order petitioners.
We also ask, at victim request and Court concurrence that offenders be required to wear monitoring devices.
We recognize that tens of thousands of protection orders are filed annually in the State and monitoring is not possible in all cases.
We would ask the Court to use their discretion, along with victim request to pinpoint cases where monitoring devices may help to deter criminal action.
We believe these are relatively simple steps that can be taken to protect and safeguard human life.