Sen. Kissel: “We want to be a national role model when it comes to domestic violence prevention policies.”

February 28, 2012

Article as it appeared in the West Hartford News
Connecticut domestic violence task force issues recommendations (document)

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012

By Jordan Fenster, Register Staff
[email protected] / Twitter: @jordanfenster

HARTFORD — A legislative task force on domestic violence has released its third round of recommendations, including to make it easier for children to file restraining orders and to continue support of 24/7 shelters.

Convened in 2009 by Speaker of the House Rep. Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, the task force has issued sets of recommendations for three years running, each time creating a package of legislation.

And that’s the intention this time around, too.

“We’re going to put these recommendations into several bills and get them passed this year,” Donovan said during a press conference Monday.

Among the 20 recommendations made this year by the task force are increasing the maximum duration of a restraining order from 6 months to one year, clarifying existing statutes to make it easier for minors to file restraining orders and to advance a project that would allow 911 calls to be texted.

Karen Jarmoc, who runs the Connecticut Coalition against Domestic Violence said there are an average of 37,000 victims of domestic violence annually in the state, with an average of 16 deaths related to domestic violence on average over the past decade.

The recommendations made by the bi-partisan task force relate to a variety of issues and concerns presented to the body over the past years.

Of the 20 suggestions, “some require legislation, some require funding, others require gentle prodding of some agencies,” according to state Rep. Clark Chapin, R-New Milford.

Though task force co-chairwoman Rep. May Flexer, D-Killingly, said this year’s recommendations “on the whole should not require additional funding,” there is one for which money has not yet been found.

Two years ago, $140,000 was garnered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund a pilot program to track domestic violence offenders using GPS technology, monitor their movements and then follow up “so there was immediate accountability for violations,” the report issued by the task force says.

Though the program was shown to be effective, according to the report, it was less so when it came to monitoring and follow-up. The recommendation is to “identify funding” to maintain this program, and to expand staff levels to appropriate amounts.

At Monday’s press conference, much was made about the bi-partisan nature of the panel — with representatives from both parties agreeing that protecting victims of domestic violence is a goal that goes beyond partisan politics.

“We all want Connecticut to be a national role model when it comes to our domestic violence prevention policies,” state Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said in a statement. “Our shared goal is to make our laws even stronger and make our communities safer. Through this bipartisan approach and these common sense reforms, I believe we will save lives.”