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First of several domestic violence-related bills passes Maine Legislature (reposted)

First of several domestic violence-related bills passes Maine Legislature

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff
Posted April 01, 2012, at 8:16 p.m.
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Paul LePage

Pat Wellenbach | AP
Paul LePage

AUGUSTA, Maine — The first of several bills introduced in the past few months aimed at curbing domestic violence in the state passed in the senate on Thursday and will be on Gov. Paul LePage’s desk for his signature this week.

LD 1841, the governor’s bill that was sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, is an act to ensure funding for the Victims’ Compensation Fund.

“These domestic violence bills highlight what can be accomplished for the people of Maine when Republicans and Democrats — legislators and advocates alike — come together,” said Adrienne Bennett, press secretary to Gov. LePage. “The governor applauds the efforts of Representatives [Emily] Cain, [D-Orono], and Fredette for their leadership. All of the domestic violence-related bills this session are important for the safety and well-being of victims and the governor looks forward to signing each one.”

The bill prohibits a court from waiving the $25 assessment on a person convicted of murder or a Class A, B or C crime and $10 on a person convicted of a Class D or E crime. Those assessments are used for the Victims’ Compensation Fund.

“Tragedies stemming from domestic violence are becoming more prevalent in Maine,” said Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, in a statement. “[Thursday] we took a good step forward in making sure that the Victims’ Compensation Fund is preserved and available to the victims and family members of violent crime.”

In addition to LD 1841, other bills related to domestic violence have passed through the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in recent months.

The bills came largely in response to the murder of Amy Lake and her two children, Coty and Monica, by her estranged husband last year.

Lake and her two children were murdered by Steven Lake on June 13, 2011, in Dexter. Steven previously had been charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence criminal threatening against his wife.

Mason, who is the chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said he is proud to have worked on so many bills regarding domestic violence.

“I think we did some good work this year,” Mason told the Bangor Daily News on Friday. “The members of the committee worked really, really hard to make sure this was something we were all really comfortable with and we could get behind to the best of our ability.”

LD 1704, which would have amended Maine’s bail code to protect domestic violence victims, sponsored by Fredette, was killed because another of the governor’s bills, LD 1867, was very similar, said Mason.

LD 1867, sponsored by Cain, calls for bail of a person charged with a crime involving domestic violence be set by a judge and not a bail commissioner. It also requires a judge to deny bail in certain circumstances.

“Bail is a very important fundamental right in our judicial system. We take it very seriously,” said Mason. “Domestic violence is a very serious thing and we have to make sure justice is handed out properly.”

LD 1760 requires notification to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking when defendants are released on bail.

“When someone is released out on bail when accused of domestic violence, sometimes they get bailed within hours [of the crime]. When they do get out, it’s usually not a good thing for that person to return home and to return in the situation they were,” said Mason. “We need to make sure the [victim] knew that person was out on bail.”

Of those bills, only LD 1841 has passed through the House and Senate.

“Everything’s been voted out of committee. Not everything has made it downstairs yet,” said Mason.


The Law, Race and Gender unit takes on the "unconstitutionality" of the Traditional Courts Bill

Reblogged from FeministsSA.com:

While we, here in the United States, have trouble ensuring that the rural America is as well educated on the current trends of the laws 100% of the time, albeit that has been changing with technology, in Africa, they are further challenged by the rural communities are still operating under 1927 law that did not allow women to represent themselves in the governmental process. There has been a curiosity of a debate in the United States about the current update of VAWA 2012; can you imagine if women weren't even allowed to have their voices represented -- especially, if in the rural communities? It would be wonderful to have the global, international communities to be on the same page of being able to give all women internationally voices to be heard so that women are not harmed, no matter what part of the world they are in -- and, no matter if they are in the city or rural communities? Wouldn't it be a blessing to see that one day that we could have an iVAWA (International Violence Against Women Act) introduced one day? This will only be possible, if the women's voices all over are clearly represented in the courts and legislative processes throughout the world. Just a thought to consider....while viewing this article and video.

Violence Against Women in the Military

Reblogged from Wider Opportunities for Women Blog:

Women who are working hard to keep our country safe are being victimized at alarming rates. The Department of Defense estimated that 19,000 service members were raped or assaulted in 2009. Furthermore, the Pentagon detailed a 58.5 percent increase in reported sexual assaults at service academies in 2011. While we commend the brave women who are taking a stand in military schools and the active ranks, too few are coming forward: according to the DOD only 13.5 percent of assaults were reported.

Read more… 330 more words

Thanks, Malore Dusenbery, for sharing this post. One of the issues of domestic violence in the military has been focused upon the men coming back from their tours and committing domestic violence upon their loved ones that they have returned home to (allegedly due to the PTSDs that they are suffering, but not adequately being treated for when they return home). Not so well known is the women in the military also suffering harm from sexual assaults while on tours as well. I know that there is a need for the military to help maintain world peace; however, at what cost to our own people? and, the victim of war also include the numbers of thousands of people dying while providing service to our country. Looks like we're going to have to pay attention to the progress of HR 3435 being presented in the US House. Please help to keep us posted on the progress from time to time, if you will.

Author's Comment on "Police: Five Found Dead in Maryland Home" - US news - Crime & Courts - msnbc.com

Reblogged from The Just Call Me Charley Blog:

Author’s Comment:

I used to live in this town with my ex-husband and four children. My ex, a domestic violence felon in possession of nine counts of illegal guns and ammunition was “set free” by Sheriff Chuck Jenkins without so much of a warrant or indictment. Upon confiscating the weapons on April 22, 2011 after eight months of my initial complaint, I was informed that no warrant was obtained; that the guns were retrieved by the sheriff’s “ATF liason”; that NO report would be filed; that no charges were pressed; and that Sheriff does not intend to pursue the matter any further.

Read more… 740 more words

Thank you for sharing the story about the domestic violence killing in Maryland, as well as your own comment. I am currently working with a project called National Domestic Violence Survivor Law Project (https://www.dvsurvivorlaw.com) and I am curious as to what has been happening since June 18, 2011. We'd love to hear more!

We begin.. March 2012

We are fascilitating a voice to change established State laws to the national level through awareness to the masses about the issues surrounding domestic violence victims and survivors, which are trying to make a movement to provide guidance from the national level in helping to better protect the victims and survivors of domestic violence. Guest bloggers, who are already domestic violence advocates and/or already experts in the field of domestic violence laws and the need for change to incur to better protect all victims and survivors in the future, will also provide input to help provide further structure and guidance in advocating for changes. Enjoy and be prepared to be informed, have continued education on these issues and receive call to actions as we proceed with our efforts! We encourage victims and survivors to provide input through the comment and/or occasional guest blogging.

Heather Piedmont, Policy Director &
Kathryn Krastin, Advocacy Director & Technical Support


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