American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on protection for domestic violence victims
American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on protection for domestic violence victims:
State lawmakers have approved a series of bills aimed at increasing protection for victims of domestic violence.
The centerpiece, House Bill 1142, would require that in some cases judges issue protective orders at the time of bail hearings for those whose felony charges stem from domestic violence.
Judges would have the option of keeping the abuser in jail if they believed the victims in the case remain in danger.
The bill is referred to “Gwen’s Law” and is named after a 39-year-old DeSoto Parish woman who was kidnapped and killed by her estranged husband, who then committed suicide.
“He’d threatened to kill her and her daughter for years,” said Theresa Donald, Gwen Salley’s sister.
Donald said her sister, who had filed for divorce, believed that the estranged husband would be kept in jail for three days after a previous domestic incident.
He was in jail for about 18 hours before he bonded out.
“This bill is written in the blood of an innocent woman,” said attorney Gary Evans.
House Bill 753 would ban anyone who had been issued a protective order or an injunction as a result of a domestic violence incident from carrying a gun until the order was removed.
House Bill 750 would increase the sentence for second-offense domestic abuse battery from six months to a year. The bill would also expedite protective orders.
According to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana ranks first in the country in the number of domestic violence homicides since 1997.
Domestic violence cases have become so pervasive in the Baton Rouge area that 19th Judicial District Judge Don Johnson has suggested that his colleagues on the bench create a division of the court that handles only domestic violence cases.
He believes that before bail is set for someone accused of domestic violence the defendant should undergo a psychological or mental health evaluation.
“We need to do something. ...,” said Johnson. “I want to prevent this from happening.” ...
H.B.s 750 and 753 have already passed both chambers and are awaiting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature.
That can’t happen fast enough, nor can the implementation and enforcement of these laws to give those who have suffered from domestic violence and fear a bit more security.