Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How can the law protect victims better?

In the wake of a horrific murder/suicide case in Maine in June 2011, studies were conducted to see what could be done to protect domestic violence survivors better. The recommendations mainly involved protecting victims by imposing tougher bail rules on abusers, and keeping abusers away from guns.

According to the studies, DV offenders should surrender all guns to the police and have their persons, homes and cars checked afterward; DV offenders who have used guns or threaten to kill should be tracked by GPS, and gun dealers should be told who is banned from owning guns. No bail should be granted for abusers who may attack the victim or flee the jurisdiction, for offenders who try to get more guns, for offenders who haven’t had a proper criminal history check. No bail release for an abuser who contacts the victim deliberately or with the intent to menace, or goes to her home or work. Assaults, threats, terror tactics, stalking or reckless actions merit $15,000 bail, according to the researchers; generally bail should be high enough to deter violations of protective orders, doubling with a second arrest, and with jail time on the third arrest. If an offender violates an order with a deadly threat, the bail should be set by a judge, not just a bail commissioner.

Other recommendations:
  • Trial: DV offenders should go to trial within a year.
  • Divorce: If DV victims who are divorcing are threatened with a weapon, the divorce should be finalized within 30 days; DV victims who are killed in the middle of a divorce proceeding should get posthumous divorces (there may be legal significance to that, but I don’t know what it is).
  • Police: The police should notify victims within three minutes of the release of their abuser; two policemen or more should respond to DV calls with high potential for violence – three if the abuser is already the subject of a protective order.
  • The home: DV victims who are being stalked need secure doors and windows, motion detectors and a landline phone (not sure how a landline is better than a cellphone).
  • The internet: Both DV abusers and victims should stay off social network sites, to prevent intimidation.

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