A bill to protect victims of domestic violence was passed by the Assembly Women and Children Committee. The two pieces of legislation would require domestic violence orders to be issued in additional languages besides English and a supervised reintegration program for those jailed for violence against their abusers.
The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-29) and sponsored by Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29) and Angela McKnight (D-31), was crafted after Speight saw the barrier non-English speakers face in the courts system.
The trio of Assemblywomen noted police offers are required to give victims of domestic violence a notice of their rights, but language barriers often prevented appropriate next steps.
“Without court orders they can actually read, victims will not understand how to legally defend themselves while defendants will not comprehend the stipulations of their restraining orders. Anyone who does not understand the details of an order can unintentionally violate it, creating further consequences for all involved that could easily have been avoided,” they said.
Helping Those Imprisoned and Abused
A second piece of legislation, sponsored by 37th Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Gordon Johnson along with Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-4), is designed to help victims of domestic violence who were imprisoned solely for violence against their abusers was passed by the same committee.
Under the bill, a supervised community reintegration program would be established to help these victims in their rehabilitation.
Inmates who wish to participate would apply via the Department of Corrections, with a psychological evaluation, objective risk assessment, evidence of abuse and summary of the crime used to determine eligibility.
“Keeping victims behind bars for trying to protect themselves is not the answer to dealing with these situations,” said Vainieri Huttle. “It’s important to focus on rehabilitation rather than punitive measures that may not fit the crime committed. This program offers an alternative to extended prison sentences and will help victims of domestic violence safely and effectively rejoin their communities
Mosquera Notes Need for the Legislation
Mosquera serves as chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee, and argued the legislation was necessary to help victims of domestic violence.
She noted 60,000 reported incidences of domestic violence were reported in 2019, with women and children disproportionately affected by it.
Additionally, she expected the situation to become more dire in 2020 and 2021 due to the public health emergency.
“Tragically, the problem has likely only gotten worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mosquera. “Lockdowns that confined people to their homes, extended isolation from outside support and the immense stress of last year may have all contributed to an increase in domestic violence, but a decrease in reporting.”