April 26, 2017 09:13 AM

HB509 would strengthen protective orders

Louisiana ranks second in the nation for the number of women killed as a result of domestic abuse. According to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 51 women were killed in domestic violence incidents in the state in 2016.

Despite the fact that the state operates a highly regarded protective order registry, a significant number of the women killed by men had protective orders in place against those men at the time they were murdered. As is frequently noted in the wake of a murder that takes place while a protective order is in place, without enforcement of the orders, they are just pieces of paper.

The House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee today will consider HB509 and HB499 by Rep. John Schroder of Covington.

Schroder's bills focus on domestic violence perpetrators and their behaviors.

HB509 would toughen penalties for violations of protective orders. HB499 would require people under a protective order resulting from the act of stalking to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and complete a court-monitored domestic abuse prevention program.

According to the digest of the bill, HB509 would add schools to the list of areas covered under protective orders. The bill would also impose a $1,000 fine for second violations of the protective orders even if violence was not involved.

Protective orders are civil documents issued by the courts to protect the victims of domestic violence from further harm, according to Womenslaw.org, a national center focused on domestic violence issues. The Louisiana registry of protective orders is operated by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Enforcement of the protective order can depend on the efforts taken by those seeking them to inform law enforcement of the existence of the orders and the details of the orders.

The legislature has enacted a number of bills in recent years that seek to quell the state's domestic violence problem — particularly the homicide rate connected to it. A 2014 bill denied domestic abusers whose name appeared in the protective order registry from being able to purchase guns. The law might have had some effect, as homicides tide to domestic violence fell from 72 in 2015 to 51 last year.

The state's recurring fiscal problems have resulting in cuts in programs for victims of domestic violence. Earlier this year, the Safety Net for Abused Persons which served as a domestic violence resource for victims in Iberia and St. Martin parishes closed its doors.

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