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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Electronic bracelets for stalkers?

OLYMPIA -- Requiring stalkers to wear electronic monitoring bracelets could have saved the life of a Tacoma teacher, a House panel was told Monday.

The parents of Jennifer Paulson pleaded with the House Judiciary Committee to approve HB 1180, a bill that would allow judges to require electronic monitoring devices be worn by people under an anti-harassment order for stalking.

Paulson was shot to death by Jed Waits as she tried to enter the Tacoma elementary school where she taught special education. Waits was under a court order to stay away from Paulson and the school, but  had been arrested for violating it on Feb. 19, 2010 and was at the school entrance a week later when she arrived.

Waits shot her and fled. Paulson died at the school and Waits died later that day in shootout with Pierce County sheriff's deputies.

Stalkers should have to wear a monitoring device that would alert their victims when they are within a certain distance, Paulson's mother Nancy Heisler said. It may not have prevented her daughter's death "but it could have given her a chance."

"She did all the right things," Heisler said, adding that Waits was not a former boyfriend, just someone Jennifer met years earlier in college and who became obsessed. "She was just kind to this man. How many more mothers have to lose their daughters?"

Rich Bartholomew, a representative for the state Bar Association, argued that monitors shouldn't be required when a protection order is first issued, because that's a civil proceeding and sometimes occurs without the defendant present. If a person violates a protective order, that's a criminal proceeding and the appropriate setting to order electronic monitoring, he said.

The committee was also asked to develop clearer rules for courts to end "permanent" domestic violence orders. Victims of abuse urged the panel to make it more difficult to set aside a protection order, but some family law attorneys argued that a chance to have the protection order changed or revoked is the best way to get abusers to work to change their behavior.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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