BIDEN Marks 13th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, Urges Colleagues to Pass New Legislation to Help Survivors of Domestic Violence
n honor of the 13th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act being signed into law, its author, U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), former Chairman and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement today, urging colleagues to cosponsor and quickly pass the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act, legislation that would create a streamlined national system to recruit and train volunteer attorneys and match them with domestic violence survivors.
"I consider the Violence Against Women Act the single most significant legislation I've drafted in my 34 years in the Senate. My commitment to ending and preventing domestic violence and rape remains as steadfast and unwavering as it was when I started this process in the early 1990's," Sen. Biden said. "The Violence Against Women Act and the National Domestic Violence Hotline have helped save hundreds of thousands of lives. I believe this legal network is the next step in stopping the violence."
Biden's original Violence Against Women Act, which was first signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994, established new federal crimes for domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. In addition, the law created and provided funding for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE), which has answered over 1 million calls, and helped train police and prosecutors to more effectively treat victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
"In the past 13 years, we've talked more about violence against women than anyone ever thought was possible. And, we have more legal, financial and technological resources than ever before," said Sen. Biden. "We have a responsibility to make sure every women, every survivor, has access to these resources until there is no more violence in our homes and in our communities."
The National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act, cosponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, creates a streamlined national system to recruit and train volunteer attorneys and match them with domestic violence survivors. Under the bill, the American Bar Association would manage an Internet-based National Domestic Violence Attorney Network to help recruit and train volunteer attorneys; statewide legal coordinators would facilitate legal services in their individual states; and the National Domestic Violence Hotline would provide legal referrals to victims. This innovative project would not only increase the number of trained volunteer attorneys, but also quickly connect victims with the legal support they need to help repair their lives.
"This legislation addresses the dire need to increase legal services for victims of domestic violence by harnessing the skills, enthusiasm and dedication of volunteer lawyers to create a coordinated, nationwide referral system to help domestic violence victims," said Denise Cardman, Acting Director of the American Bar Association. "The ABA strongly supports the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act and urges Congress to promptly enact this important legislation."