Gov. Sanford Signs Tougher Domestic Violence Penalties into Law
SANFORD ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES ITS EFFORTS TO MAKE SOUTH CAROLINA SAFER FOR WOMEN
Gov. Mark Sanford continued his efforts to make South Carolina safer for women by signing into law H. 3984, a bill that substantially toughens fines and sentences for domestic violence offenders. Specifically, the new law a) elevates fines and penalties for first, second and third offenses, b) requires judges to receive continuing legal education on domestic violence issues and c) sets a time frame of five years for expunging a criminal domestic violence conviction.
"Nothing is more central to quality of life than being safe in your own home and yet tragically, too many women in South Carolina haven't been able to enjoy that basic building block of freedom," Gov. Sanford said. "We've made it perfectly clear that South Carolina's historically dismal rankings on the domestic violence front are simply unacceptable, and we're going to keep pushing for reforms that will make the women of our state safer."
Gov. Sanford signed legislation in August of 2003 that elevated the criminal status for attempted assaults and imposed mandatory minimum sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders. While signing S. 477 two years ago, the governor said "this is just a start." Since then, Gov. Sanford and Department of Social Services Director Kim Aydlette have worked with victims' advocates like Vicki Bourus to establish criminal domestic violence fatality review teams through a task force created in a 2004-05 budget proviso. The governor also issued a personal challenge to every man in South Carolina in his 2004 State of the State address not to resort to violence in the home as a way of solving problems. Additionally, in July 2004 Gov. Sanford signed legislation reforming our state's parole hearing process in an effort to make it easier for victims of violent crime to give their testimony. This May, the governor signed legislation ensuring unemployment benefits will be paid to workers who leave their jobs because they are fleeing domestic abuse.
"No matter what the issue, resorting to violence in the home isn't the answer," Gov. Sanford said. "We're going to continue our efforts to address this issue from a preventative standpoint, but at the same time we're going to keep strengthening our laws so domestic violence offenders know South Carolina isn't going to tolerate their behavior any longer."