- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who ran away from home at age 11 to escape abuse, says he will ask legislators to make ankle bracelets a condition of bail for people charged with domestic violence.

“If you’re bailed out for domestic violence, you wear a monitor,” LePage said.

He said a monitor also should be required for those who violate protection from abuse orders. Judges can grant temporary and two-year protective orders against those accused of abuse.

LePage spoke during a press conference Thursday announcing a state panel’s report revealing Maine’s 24 domestic homicides in 2014 and 2015 accounted for slightly more than half of all homicides. In 2014, domestic violence homicides accounted for two-thirds of homicides.

LePage acknowledged criticism that ankle bracelets can infringe on the accused’s rights, but he said the state must “keep victims alive” throughout the judicial process. He signed a 2012 executive order establishing a task force to reduce domestic violence through technology.

Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills said the task force’s work has faced obstacles including funding and the reliability of ankle bracelets.

Despite Maine’s relatively low crime rate, a recent Violence Policy Center study ranked the state the ninth highest nationwide for homicides that males committed against females.

Firearms were used in the majority of homicides reviewed by the state panel. One father killed his wife and three children. One son killed his mother. A 4-year-old watched his father kill his mother.

A panel member and executive director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Francine Stark, said her organization is seeking increased funding for programs supporting children affected by domestic violence.

Last year, 13,000 Maine residents sought help from domestic violence resource centers, Stark said.

Stark said too often courts send abusers to anger management programs or counselors instead of 48-week batterer intervention programs. Washington County lacks a certified male program, she noted.

Warning signs of abuse include stalking and threatening suicide.

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