Friday, March 16, 2007

Reducing Domestic Violence

Legislators are working on numerous bills, which seek to reduce domestic violence across our state. This week, the House unanimously passed legislation (House Bill 42), which would add stalking to the list of offenses a judge must consider before granting a pretrial release and would increase the reporting requirements on homicides where the victim and perpetrator have a personal relationship.

The House has also passed two other bills. House Bill 46 would determine whether security guidelines are needed for domestic violence shelters operated by state-funded agencies and to provide, where feasible, private areas for domestic violence victims who are needed for any court proceeding where the defendant will be present. House Bill 47 would make it a felony for some suspected abusers to violate a protective order and contact victims while possessing a gun, knife or other deadly weapon. These bills are now being considered by the Senate.

The newly-created Joint Legislative Committee on Domestic Violence made 16 recommendations just prior to the start of the session and come on the heels of sweeping changes to North Carolina's domestic violence laws in 2004. Bill sponsors point to recent statistics that also call attention to the growing problem of domestic violence and the need to enact these new laws. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported Wednesday that at least 79 people were victims of homicide related to domestic violence in 2006. The number, based on reports from advocates and family members from across the state, was 70 in 2005 and 82 in 2004.

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