House Speaker Greg Stumbo files “Amanda’s Bill” in effort to reduce domestic violence

 

FrankfortHouse Speaker Greg Stumbo pre-filed legislation Thursday Sept. 24th.  that he said would give domestic-violence victims “a fighting chance” if an offender violated a court order to stay away.

            The proposed legislation is named in honor of Amanda Ross, whose Sept. 11th murder in Lexington is being investigated as a domestic-violence case.  Her mother, Diana Ross, attended the press conference announcing the legislation in the chamber of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

            “Those who fear for their life like Amanda need to know if they are in imminent danger,” Speaker Stumbo said.  “This bill would give them that knowledge.”

            “Shortly after Amanda’s death, our family decided that we would use our loss to help protect others,” Diana said.  “Nothing we can do here will bring Amanda back to us. 

            “Today with this proposal bearing Amanda’s name, we begin our effort to honor her life while working to help others,” she added.  “This legislative proposal is a good first step.  Our prayer is that once enacted that it will keep other families from losing a loved one.  Perhaps it will bring the needed attention, discussion and changes to improve the plight of all victims of domestic violence.”

            If the legislation becomes law during the 2010 Regular Session, judges would have the authority to require offenders named in domestic violence orders to wear an electronic monitor that would let victims know if they were approaching.

            Speaker Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, noted that more than a dozen states already have similar laws.  “Based on their experiences, we believe that the monitors would be used in about 15 percent of the cases,” he said.  “This would be targeted at those who have met several risk factors, such as violently threatening or stalking the victim.”

            The cost would be paid by the offender.  A current program being run in Fayette County to track prisoners on probation costs the offender $7.50 per day.

            “Cost is certainly a factor, but let’s not forget the tremendous costs already caused by domestic violence,” Speaker Stumbo said.  “Nationwide, domestic violence victims lose $2 million a day in wages because they cannot go to work.  Hundreds of millions of dollars more are spent on medical care.  One murder trial alone can cost $185,000, and a year in jail costs more than $19,000.  This monitoring system has the potential to save not only lives, but a substantial amount of money as well.”

            Several law-enforcement officials have come out in favor of the proposed legislation.

            “The Lexington Division of Police strongly supports any effort to provide additional levels of safety for the victims of domestic abuse,” said Lexington Police Chief Ronnie J. Bastin.  “Our Division recognizes this technology as having the potential of being a strong step towards notifying victims and law enforcement in a way that the current system cannot otherwise accomplish.  We would be glad to partner with other agencies in exploring the use of technology to make our community safer.”

            Martin Scott, the president of the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police, added, “I support the Speaker’s efforts to prevent victims of domestic violence from being re-victimized.  Any time you have the ability to monitor the accused, it makes it safer for all those involved.”

            “The Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association supports Speaker Stumbo’s efforts 100 percent,” Executive Director Jerry Wagner said.  “We will be actively involved in writing, passing, and implementing the legislation.

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