In The News

Jul 23, 2010

AL – The state’s abuse protection law has been extended to cover dating relationships of more than six months and to allow victims to file protection orders at age 18, instead of 19, the DeKalb County Times-Journal reports. Before the law was changed, in order to get a protection order a victim had to be married to or have a child with the perpetrator, have a common-law marriage or the abuse had to include a former household member. The changes took effect on July 1st.

CA – Last month, the California Legislature approved SJR 24 – a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act. “It is imperative that while we attempt to end violence against women in our own communities, we support global efforts to combat this injustice everywhere. SJR 24 will send a very clear message to Washington: Ending and preventing violence against women should be a priority of our foreign policy,” said Senator Leland Yee, (D-San Francisco), the resolution’s author.

CA – The state’s Administrative Office of the Courts recently launched a program that allows courts to search and receive electronic images of protective orders so judges and law enforcement officials have access to more complete information, including written notes on orders. Courts in Marin, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties are the first to use the California Courts Protective Order Registry. Twenty courts will be using the program by the end of the year, and the remaining 38 statewide courts will be added over the next few years, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.

CT – Governor M. Jodi Rell signed legislation on June 7 that makes wide-ranging reforms in domestic and family violence cases, including a statute requiring employers to provide leave to employees who are victims of violence. The new law also: creates a pilot program to electronically monitor high-risk offenders; expands information and disclosure requirements for family intervention units, courts and the Department of Children and Families; and expands the persistent offender law for crimes involving assault, harassment, threatening, trespass and restraining or protective order violation. “These comprehensive reforms will help strengthen our domestic violence laws, which are already some of the toughest in the nation,” Governor Rell said. “We must continue to do all we can to keep families safe and give police, prosecutors and others the tools they need to respond effectively to this serious, devastating issue.” A bipartisan task force recommended the changes.

IL – This month, Governor Quinn signed the nation’s first state law mandating that all rape kits be booked into evidence by law enforcement and sent to crime labs for testing within 10 days of collection, as long as “sufficient staffing and resources” are available. Persistent news reports have noted that some states and cities around the country have a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits. A new Human Rights Watch report suggests that up to 80 percent of Illinois’ rape kits may never have been examined. Though advocates have commended the new law, some are concerned that the state cannot fund the program. State Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the New York Times that she was confident federal funds could be found.

NY – An appellate division of New York’s Supreme Court will determine whether or not expert testimony on battering will be allowed in the trail of Barbara Sheehan, who is facing 15 years to life in prison for murdering her husband. Sheehan claims she shot her husband, Raymond Sheehan, in self defense during an assault and that she suffered years of abuse. Barbara Sheehan has appeared on Oprah and Good Morning America to tell her story. She says that she did not feel she could report that abuse because her husband was a police officer. Her trial is likely to be later this year.

SCOTLAND – More than 5,000 employees of the country’s National Health Service (NHS) – including midwives, mental health workers and substance misuse and sexual health professionals – will be trained to encourage victims to ‘open up’ about domestic abuse. Scotland will become the first country in the United Kingdom to tackle domestic abuse through the NHS, with a coordinated national strategy to identify and help more victims. A national NHS domestic abuse team has been put in place to support local health boards as they implement the initiative. They will develop training packages for staff that highlight best practices, and issue a national guidance. Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said, “This will help ensure victims are met with a listening ear, have the confidence to tell someone what is happening and get the help and support they need.”