May 15, 2014

Domestic violence registry: Could it help stop the hurt?

5-15-2014 Virginia:

The recent murders of four family members in Petersburg has one Virginian man fighting for state lawmakers to create a domestic violence registry, similar to the sexual predator registry.

Marlow Jones created an online petition that proposes a person with two protective orders filed against him or her within one year would have to register as a “domestic violence offender,” just like a violent sexual offender has to register for a minimum of five years.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” Jones told “You and I can use it for our daughters, our daughters can use it when they date.”

However, some attorneys question whether a registry is constitutional, including Portsmouth’s Richard Davis.

“I don’t think it is legal. I mean, you have to be tried, you have to be convicted, you have to be charged before you can get some sort of sentence like that, and that is a sentence,” Davis said.

Davis points to issues with the sex offender registry, cases, for instance, where an 18-year-old dating a 16-year-old is blacklisted for life.

“That’s probably worse than jail, being on the registry for years and years and years, and you can’t do much of anything about it,” he said.

Women at a local domestic violence shelter voiced concern that it could victimize their clients again. If a woman fights back, or even if she doesn’t, her abuser can take a protective order against her, too.

Two other states — Texas and New York — considered Domestic Violence Registries in 2011. In both cases, offenders convicted at least three times would have had their names added to a registry. But the bills failed in both states.

Jones is working to schedule a meeting with the Governor and other lawmakers. 10 On Your Side caught up with Governor Terry McAuliffe and asked him about it.

“Off the top of my head, if this gentleman wants to do it and he thinks he can keep people safe, then I would support something like that,” McAuliffe said.

Those are encouraging words for Jones, who is prepared to fight for his family and others like them.

“It may not be exactly how I want it, but at least, if you could take some sort of step in that direction, at least it’s something making it stronger, sending a message to these guys,” Jones said.

10 On Your Side looked at Virginia’s latest report on domestic and sexual violence and learned nearly 2,000 people died between 1999 and 2012 because of domestic violence. In 41 percent of those cases, there was a history of physical violence or threats between the offender and the victim. Ten percent of the time there was a history of protective orders. ..Source.. by Stephanie Harris

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