Domestic violence homicide rate spurs committee action
Major work being done on domestic, gender, and sexual violence legislation
With news of a possibly record high number of domestic violence homicides for 2009 in Wisconsin, committees in the Senate and Assembly are moving forward on important legislation to draw down the number of violent assaults and homicides. The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported Wednesday that, while the crime and murder rate is dropping, domestic violence homicides increased by at least 20 in 2009 over the preceding year. This year, 59 people have been murdered through domestic violence and local abuse shelters are facing record demands from victims.
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing continued its focus on legislation aimed at protecting the victims of domestic or gender motivated violence. Senator Lena C Taylor (D Milwaukee) moved forward on three pieces of legislation in a series of committee votes.
Senate Bill 283/Assembly Bill 410 – Closing the 72 loophole in bail orders, authored by Rep. Ted Zigmunt (D Francis Creek) and Sen. Taylor changes the 72 hour no contact statute to provide that a violation of the conditional release is also a Class A miscondidemeanor. Currently, under state law, when a defendant contacts the victim in this time period in a way that it not intimidating or harassing, the loophole does not classify this crime as bail jumping despite the fact it is a violation of bail.
Senate Bill 344 – The Wisconsin Gender Hate Crimes Act, authored by Senator Taylor and Rep. Joe Parisi (D Madison), would make crimes motivated by a victim’s gender eligible for the hate crimes penalty enhancer. 27 other states currently have hate crimes legislation in the law books for crimes motivated by gender. The bills are now available for scheduling by the full Senate. Additionally, R & B recording artist, Timothy Campbell II, also known as “TC2”, appeared via teleconference to speak on the importance of domestic abuse legislation, highlight an upcoming musical tour—the “Survivor” Tour—denouncing domestic violence. Mr. Campbell is a native of Milwaukee.
“I was battered,” stated Mr. Campbell. “Retaliation is not the answer. It is not ok for a man or a woman to put their hands on each other.” Mr. Campbell plans to bring his message against domestic violence to schools and various college campuses.
In the future, the committee will hold executive sessions, on other bills aimed at domestic and sexual violence and creating a civil rape shield law.
Assembly Bill 419 – The Victim Privacy Protection Act, authored by Rep. Mark Radcliffe (D Black River Falls) and Sen. Taylor, creates a civil rape shield law, modeled on the Federal Rules of Evidence, which would limit a defendants’ cross examination of a rape victim regarding his or her sexual history. The bill also keeps personally identifiable information about a sexual assault victim listed on a crime victim compensation form confidential.
Senate Bill 337, authored by Sen. Spencer Coggs (D Milwaukee) and Rep. Therese Berceau (D Madison) relating to: creating a civil cause of action for acts of violence motivated by gender. This past Wednesday, the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties began its work on five bills as well. The committee is charged with detailing the cost and/or savings of legislation and also commenting on an appropriate penalty structure for the bills. Members of the bipartisan committee, including members of the Assembly, heard from agencies affected by the Senate and Assembly bills in an informational hearing. The committee heard testimony on:
Senate Bill 380/Assembly Bill 558
- Firearm possession prohibited by a person convicted of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Senate Bill381/Assembly Bill 559
- Firearm prohibition notice when served with a petition for certain injunction hearings and process for surrendering firearms if court grants an injunction created, arrest warrant provision.
Senate Bill 344
- Enhanced penalty for certain crimes if victim was intentionally selected based on gender.