Domestic violence

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's a horrific thought that anyone would be subjected to domestic violence, but it's a reality that many face. In fact, according to the 2009 Crime in Missouri report, 36,943 domestic violence incidents were reported in the state during the year.

To address this dire problem, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster recently announced 12 recommendations designed to provide additional protection for victims of this abuse. Included in the recommendations are seven statutory changes and five "best practices" for police and the courts.

Some of the proposed statutory changes are relatively basic and will provide additional legal protection for victims. One such change includes providing consistent definitions for domestic violence. Another proposed change would not require a person to pay a fee when filing a motion seeking enforcement of a previous order of protection.

In addition to the seven proposed statutory changes, five "best practices" have also been recommended. Again, many of these practices are relatively basic yet would be steps to help better protect domestic violence victims. One recommendation would encourage courts to use special dockets for abuser compliance hearings.

While there is much debate over what the size and scope of government should be -- particularly in matters of discretionary spending -- there's no doubt that government has a basic responsibility of protecting its people. These recommendations are a good starting point as the state looks to protect victims of domestic violence.

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