Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Friday joined with a group of legislators and advocates for the ceremonial signing of a new package of laws (Public Act 13-214) that expand protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, continuing a trend to better coordinate services to best assist survivors.
"Over the past several years, our state has made a number of alterations to how we respond to domestic violence, recognizing that when a person is faced with this matter, it impacts almost every aspect of their lives," Governor Malloy said. "While we've made great strides in improving services, we can do more -- not only within our criminal justice system, but also with other matters, such as housing and financial issues. These are all parts of a much bigger system that only works best when they are coordinated to work together."
The legislative package impacts to a number of aspects within the state's criminal justice system, including housing issues and judicial services. Among these includes:
- Requiring probation officers to provide notice of suspected probation violations assigned to victim advocates;
- Requiring state courts to maintain separate, secure rooms in certain courthouses to be utilized privately by survivors and victim advocates;
Permitting a sexual assault survivor to terminate a rental agreement without penalty under some circumstances;
- Requiring the Judicial Branch to develop a plan to include temporary financial support as part of the relief available to domestic violence survivors through the civil restraining order; and
- Requiring the Judicial Branch to make the family violence training program for judges, Judicial Branch personnel, and court clerks available to guardians ad litem.
Governor Malloy specifically thanked State Representative Mae Flexer (D-Killingly, Plainfield), who serves as Chair of the Speaker's Task Force on Domestic Violence and has been among the legislature's most vocal advocates on behalf of domestic violence issues.
"I was proud to stand with Governor Malloy as he signed legislation that continues our effort to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault," State Representative Flexer said. "These new measures will help victims avoid the devastating effects an abusive relationship can have on their finances, protect victims facing abuse from a neighbor, and enables victims to meet privately with victim advocates in our courthouses."
"Connecticut has long recognized that domestic violence is no longer a private, family matter, rather it is a societal crisis that requires a coordinated community response," State Victim Advocate Garvin Ambrose said. "The creation of the Speaker's Task Force on Domestic Violence has brought forth more awareness, attention and response to strengthen the criminal justice community's response to incidents of domestic violence, while further enhancing protections for victims and their families. The measures of Public Act 13-214 are another step toward improving our commitment to combat and end domestic violence in our state. In addition, the law will provide the same safe housing protection to victims of sexual assault that are already afforded to victims of domestic violence."
Karen Jarmoc, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said, "Connecticut's most recent measures to strengthen our state's response to victims of domestic violence provides meaningful opportunities for systems to work more collaboratively, improve training and offer a more effective coordination of services to victims. Most importantly, this new law aims to provide better outcomes to some 60,000 victims of domestic violence that come through the doors of domestic violence agencies in Connecticut annually for help."