U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a former Jackson County Prosecutor, released the following statement after successfully rallying support for, and voting to renew, the Violence Against Women Act:
"This law saves lives and protects children and families-it's just that simple. My experience as a prosecutor gives me insight into just how vital the Violence Against Women Act is for Missouri's families, which is why I fought to get it renewed and why I call on the U.S. House to follow our lead and renew these crucial protections."
On a vote of 68-31 today, the Senate approved legislation renewing the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark law which provides vital protections for women and families. The renewal provides resources to state and local governments to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and protect victims of domestic violence and their children. The new legislation strengthens the original bill by:
Reducing bureaucracy and strengthening accountability measures to ensure that resources provided to states are properly spent
Placing greater emphasis on training for law enforcement response to sexual assaults, which have among the lowest conviction rates for any violent crime
Renewing successful and important programs that have helped law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable.
McCaskill served as County Prosecutor for Jackson County during the original passage of the Violence Against Women Act, creating a Domestic Violence Unit in her office, and helping establish a similar unit in the Kansas City Police Department. These changes aided in the prosecution of abusers, and also provided access to resources for victims' advocates to advise, counsel, and protect women and their children.
Although the bill has gained strong support from Senators on both sides of the aisle-including strong support from nearly every female Senator-it had faced significant opposition from many Senators, including a significant number that opposed the bill when it was voted out of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where it was first considered. The law, originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, has resulted in a 50 percent overall reduction in incidents of domestic violence nationally. During both previous reauthorizations, it unanimously passed the Senate, and its current reauthorization is supported by all 50 state Attorneys General.