The disappearance of Meshay Melendez, a Vancouver resident, has raised questions about the use of GPS monitoring for individuals accused of domestic violence.
Prior to her disappearance, her boyfriend Kirkland Warren was arrested on domestic violence charges but was released without GPS monitoring.
This type of monitoring is allowed under Washington’s Tiffany Hill act, which aims to protect survivors of domestic violence.
The law allows courts to order individuals accused of domestic violence to wear GPS ankle devices that can be monitored by officials and linked to an app on the victim’s phone, alerting them when the offender is nearby.
When Warren appeared in Clark County court in early March, he was ordered not to have contact with Melendez, and prosecutors determined that he posed an extreme risk to her.
A risk assessment found that Warren scored 31 on a scale of 1 to 18 for danger.
However, Clark County Prosecutors did not ask for Warren to have electronic monitoring pending any trial, and the court chose not to order it either.
Instead, Warren was granted bail and released.
Days later, Melendez and her eight-year-old daughter Layla disappeared.
Domestic violence advocates say this scenario happens too often and something must change.
The lack of consistent use of electronic monitoring is a question that needs to be answered.
Barriers must be understood to ensure that the system works for survivors in communities.
The Clark County prosecuting attorney’s office has not responded to questions about why GPS monitoring was not requested for Warren, despite the fact that he presented an extreme danger to Melendez.
Anyone experiencing domestic violence can seek help by calling or texting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.