Conklin bill would allow GPS tracking for domestic violence abusers

mcarroll@centredaily.comJuly 9, 2013 

— It’s been a few painful months of firsts for Glenn and Regina Raymond and their family.

The first Easter without their sister. The first Fourth of July.

“When I think of Thanksgiving, Christmas, that’s when it really sinks in that she’s gone,” Regina Raymond said.

Traci Raymond Miscavish was shot and killed by her estranged husband, Mark Miscavish, in March. The former state trooper, defying a no-contact order, walked into the County Market grocery store outside Philipsburg where the woman worked and opened fire with a shotgun, killing her then turning the gun on himself.

The murder-suicide followed the wife’s filing for divorce a week prior and the husband’s arrest in January on charges he attacked her and threatened to kill her.

Now the family is helping to push a piece of legislation they believe could have helped save their sister, daughter and mother.

State Rep. Scott Conklin, flanked Monday by Glenn and Regina Raymond, announced a bill that would allow courts to use to electronic GPS monitoring of an alleged abuser in certain domestic violence cases.

“I believe Traci would be alive today if we would have had this device,” Conklin, D-Rush Township, said.

Under the bill, courts would have the option of granting monitoring in certain cases while a protection from abuse order is in effect.

“Sadly, an all-too-clear tragedy explains why this is necessary,” Conklin said in a statement. “Traci Ann Raymond Miscavish lived in fear of her estranged husband. Traci had a PFA against him, yet he was able to track her down at her place of employment and take her life before taking his own.”

Conklin said the bill would call for the use of technology that’s already used for other defendants, such as those on house arrest.

The GPS tracking device, which could be worn around the wrist or ankle, is already used in certain PFA situations in 21 other states. Those seeking protection would also carry a device that would alert them if the defendant got too close.

“This is nothing new,” Conklin said. “The shame of the matter is that is takes a tragedy for us to be able to act on it,” Conklin said.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said her office, meanwhile, is working on a comprehensive proposal to the county’s bail program that could have similar effects.

Parks Miller said the proposal would allow the county’s judges to use GPS technology to track domestic violence offenders in criminal cases if they are released on bail or if they pose an ongoing threat to victims.

“The victim could have a head start to get away if things go bad,” Parks Miller said in an email. “We at least owe that small advantage to them when they have placed their trust in us. Traci Miscavish deserved that, and her family is invested in seeing these changes. I am committed to this simple change in her name to help other victims.”

Count Regina Raymond among those who believe the technology could have saved her sister.

“The lesson learned from the tragedy of our loss is to help prevent future loses,” she said. “That’s why we went to Rep. Conklin and asked how we can prevent this from happening again.”

The Raymond family, meanwhile, is slowly coming to terms with their new reality.

“This has happened for a long time in Pennsylvania,” Glenn Raymond said. “It’s happened many times. I could never imagine the pain people felt until it happened to our family.

“Our goal is to prevent this from happening to other families,” he continued. “It leaves a big empty hole in your chest. It’s hard to breathe. It’s tough. I never went through something this bad before.”

Conklin said he is confident the bill will find broad support across both aisles. Introduced at one of the busiest times for legislators, it already has 18 co-sponsors.

“This is certainly a way to focus our energy and have something to carry her legend on,” Regina Raymond said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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