AUGUSTA — A proposal to allow courts to require electronic monitoring of people charged with or convicted of violating a protection from abuse order ran into opposition Monday during a public hearing before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Opponents said the bill, L.D. 495, goes too far by allowing tracking devices to be a condition of bail when someone is merely accused of a crime.

State Rep. Kim Rosen, R-Bucksport, the bill’s sponsor, said Maine has a serious problem with domestic violence and she hopes the bill could help victims.

“Sixty percent of all homicide deaths in Maine are the result of domestic violence, and the Maine CDC has declared domestic violence a public health emergency,” Rosen said. “This legislation offers the state of Maine an opportunity to take real action against the atrocities of domestic violence by offering greater protection for victims and greater accountability for offenders.”

Rosen, who has submitted similar legislation in the past, said she recognizes that it would be expensive and difficult to implement such a system, which is modeled after similar laws in other states.

The electronic device would immediately notify law enforcement and the victim if an offender breaks geographic restrictions, allow law enforcement to speak to the offender through cell phone capability, and alert the victim of the offender’s presence with a loud alarm system, Rosen said.

“It alerts her, so she has time to escape, she has time to get to a safe spot that he does not know,” she said.

Representatives from the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Department of Corrections and others testified against the measure.

“While the challenges and dangers faced by domestic violence victims are serious and should be addressed, we must continue to be vigilant about protecting the civil liberties of those who would be impacted by this bill, especially those who would be subjected to electronic tracking after being merely accused of committing a crime,” said Alysia Melnick of the MCLU.

Scott Landry of the Department of Corrections said the department supports the goal of protecting victims of domestic violence, but opposes the bill.

“Unfortunately, the research on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring technologies, particularly in its application to domestic violence offenders, remains rather thin and the findings are definitely inconclusive,” he said.

The committee has scheduled a work session for the bill on March 24.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]