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Gov Signs New Laws To Protect Abused Victims

HARTFORD — Victims of Domestic Violence now have three more laws to ensure  support and safety from their predators.

Flanked by domestic abuse victim advocates at the Connecticut Coalition on Domestic Violence office in East Hartford, Gov. M. Jodi Rell  signed three bills into law to “create broader protections for victims of domestic violence.” 

These laws, the governor said,  inlcude electronic monitoring of violent offenders and greater awareness of teen dating violence, sweeping reforms the  said will help prevent abuse and provide support and safety for victims in the “darkest moments.”

The centerpiece of the reforms is House Bill 5497, An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Speaker of the House of Representatives’ Task Force on Domestic Violence, which addresses numerous programs in criminal justice, social services and education.  The legislation resulted from a bipartisan task force formed by Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan. 

The law includes a pilot program in which the high-risk offenders are electronically monitored and requires the Judicial Branch to apply for federal grants to fund the program. It also expands information and disclosure requirements for family intervention units, courts and the Department of Children and Families and allows the Chief Court Administrator to establish domestic violence dockets in three geographical areas. In addition, it expands the persistent offender law for crimes involving assault, trespass, threatening, harassment and violation of restraining or protective order and allows courts to consider the convictions for essentially the same crimes in other states. All provisions take effect Oct. 1,  with the exception of the electronic monitoring funding, which is effective upon passage.

The Governor also signed House Bill 5246, An Act Concerning the Protection of and Services for Victims of Domestic Violence. The law makes it easier for tenants who are victims of family violence to terminate their rental agreement without penalty, creates a public service awareness campaign to prevent teen dating violence and mandates the state Department of Social Services to make payments from marriage license surcharges to domestic violence shelters. This will be effective Oct. 1, except for marriage license surcharge funds and public service campaign, which are effective July 1.

House Bill 5315, An Act Concerning Education and the Reduction of Domestic Violence. The law requires school boards to offer training on preventing teen dating violence to employees as part of the health education information they must provide.  This bill will was effective on July 1.

Rell said the state has already dedicated more than $2 million in federal stimulus funds over the last year for a variety of domestic violence programs. Most recently, the state awarded $140,000 in stimulus funds to the Judicial Branch to start a GPS monitoring program for domestic violence offenders in Bridgeport, Danielson and Hartford.  The funds will be used to purchase the monitoring service plus some equipment for a minimum of 21 high risk offenders.  The offenders will be identified by the Courts.

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