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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Legislative Reports

Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at 3:49 PM

As we are now less than two weeks away from the election, we know many of you are paying close attention to local races, ballot issues, and the Presidential debates. We are also hearing from the Secretary of State's office that a significant number of Arkansans have already cast their ballot, taking advantage of early voting.

This week, however, we want to draw your attention to an issue every political party wants to see come to an end and one impacting every district in the state. That issue is the pervasive problem of domestic violence.

Throughout October, domestic violence prevention groups in Arkansas have been working diligently to raise more awareness and inform the public of early warning signs. Domestic Violence Awareness month is drawing to a close, but this is an issue legislators tackle throughout the year.

Every day in Arkansas, domestic violence programs are providing emergency shelter for approximately seven women and six children. Our hotlines receive over 7,000 calls a year. And in the past 10 years, Arkansas has ranked an average of 9th nationally for domestic homicides.

Domestic violence, according to an FBI study, is one of the most under reported crimes in this country. Though crime rates dropped significantly in 1998, domestic violence did not.

In recent years, the Arkansas General assembly has passed several pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening the laws to prevent domestic violence. In 2009, a law was passed making the violation of a protection order a Class D felony. Another law was passed that year allows the courts to require anyone who violates orders of protection to wear an electronic surveillance device as a condition of his or her release. We will continue to study the challenges our court system faces to improve our laws.

In the meantime, we encourage all Arkansans to look for the warning signs. Domestic violence is not just physical. It includes patterns of forcible control that one person exercises over another. It causes physical harm, arouses fear, makes victims do things that they do not want to do, or stops them from doing things that they want to do. It can be physical, emotional, sexual or economic abuse or isolation.

If you are in danger of abuse call 911. If you need a listing of a shelter or hotline close to you, visit www.domesticpeace.com.

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Legislative reports
By Rep. Homer Lenderman and Rep. Wes Wagner
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