Quebec adopts ankle monitor system to protect domestic violence victims

Quebec has become the first jurisdiction in Canada to adopt monitoring devices to protect victims of conjugal violence.

The program was first announced in late 2021 and is set to roll out into every region in the province by the end of 2023.

The device works like this: the person accused of domestic violence is ordered by the court, or prison authorities, to put the electronic bracelet on their ankle.

A private security firm is then in charge of monitoring the wearer’s movements.

If they go within the perimeter of their victim, the victim gets notified on their phone. Police are then called to intervene.

“This is a revolution that we're putting in place with this bracelet,” said Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault.

That “revolution” is coming in response to growing pressure from victims of domestic violence who say they don't feel safe knowing that their ex-partner can get close to them once they’re released from jail. In the last year alone, there were 26 femicide victims in Quebec.

“It is definitely a help,” said Amy Kaufman, a survivor of conjugal abuse. She welcomed the use of the device as an additional way to protect other victims.

“When I left, [I was] told to put safety measures in place,” she said. “I had to pay for them.”

“I put video cameras outside my house, paid someone to sleep overnight, put in alarm systems, panic buttons -- so at least this does help.”

Victims will have to agree to take part in the program. Guilbault said the bracelets will go a long way in reassuring women of their own safety.

“We had to take concrete actions to make sure we increase the security and the peace of mind of those women who are victims of domestic violence,” she told reporters.

However, Kaufman expressed worry that the device can only do so much to protect people from their abusers.

“I think it gives a sense of security, but I worry it could be a false sense of security; knowing there are some perpetrators who are not guided by the rules from judges,” she said.

In the coming months, 500 devices will be rolled out across Quebec, with a shipment arriving in Montreal in the spring.

SUPPORT NETWORK

Victims of domestic violence can contact SOS violence conjugale at 1-800-363-9010.

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