Advocates respond to DeLeo/Coakley initiative
April 01, 2014
Jane Doe Inc. applauds the leadership of House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Attorney General Martha Coakley in crafting legislation that takes a more comprehensive approach to addressing the policies and systems necessary to hold offenders accountable and to support survivors while also promoting awareness, education and prevention.
Maureen Gallagher, JDI's Policy Director said, "While the tragic murder of Jennifer Martel served as a catalyst for this current legislative initiative, preventing domestic violence fatalities is but one anticipated and needed outcome as we seek to hold ALL offenders accountable and to supporting ALL survivors. The story of Jennifer Martel echoes the stories of thousands of women, children and men who suffer from sexual and domestic violence each year in the Commonwealth."
Advocates have urged legislators and the public not to have a narrow focus on some of the issues that arose around the arraignment and release of Jared Remy but rather to recognize that the prevention of homicide does not typically rest with one decision at one time and requires. Accordingly, a more holistic approach that involves criminal justice reforms along with supports for survivors and training and adoption of best practices by systems that interact with offenders and survivors is required.
The advocacy by JDI over the past several months has paid off. JDI's legislative priorities -- employment protections for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking; creating a felony offense of strangulation; and excluding misdemeanor domestic violence cases from those that can be dismissed as a result of accord and satisfaction agreements -- are included in this proposal. Several of these items were included in a Senate bill passed earlier this year.
While this bill is primarily focused on domestic violence, it is imperative to recognize that sexual and domestic violence frequently co-occur and that training and policies must address both sexual and domestic violence. Gallagher added, "Preventing and ending sexual and domestic violence will ultimately require more than passage of a bill - it requires the political and social will to change the conditions that foster violence, the investment in programs that support survivors and create accountability for offenders, and the commitment of all spheres of society to be part of the solution."
JDI and its member programs are available to comment on the proposed legislation. To speak to someone, please contact Toni Troop at JDI.
Toni K. Troop
Director of Communications
Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Direct dial: 617-557-1807