Ellen Brown, director of TAP’s Women’s Resource Center
In December the Roanoke City Council received a letter from Chief Judge Joseph Clark stating the courts intend to implement a program for domestic violence cases. The courts have recognized all the taskforce recommendations.
At a press conference held last week Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea pronounced the program a success saying, “this is an accomplishment because it will provide early intervention and enhanced supervision of domestic violence offenders.” Lea said that assault and battery cases will be referred to the court community correction program for services and supervision for one year. The defendant will be required to remain on good behavior for an additional two years.
A magistrate is now mandated to issue a warrant without having to make a finding that “there is probable danger of further [such] acts.” All domestic violence convictions will be included in records made available to police through the Virginia Criminal Information Network.
Jane R. Conlin, Director of Social Services announced that a new domestic violence social worker position was filled by Gwendolyn Coleman who will help “victims develop ways to be safe and go on with their lives.”
According to Aisha Johnson, Education Information Specialist with Roanoke Police Department, domestic calls for police service from years 2000 – 2003 averaged over 6000. In recent years the calls to police have decreased. In 2008 there were 2306 domestic calls for police service. These calls for service include violence between husband and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, parents and children, and siblings. However, these statistics only reflect those collected by the by the Roanoke Police Department within the city limits of Roanoke.
Ellen Brown, director of TAP’s Women’s Resource Center, said they themselves assist 40 victims of domestic violence a month. Brown said “we are in strong support of this legislative initiative” and she looks forward to working with law enforcement. Brown said they work very closely with The Turning Point women’s domestic violence shelter.
Delegate William Fralin who also served on the task force proposed legislation in 2007 that resulted in a mandatory 30 days of incarceration for second offenders of domestic assault and battery. In addition there is now a mandate of 60 days of incarceration for violating a protective order within 5 years of a prior conviction.
Lea said that domestic violence is “not a socioeconomic issue” and that he gets calls of thanks from people you would not expect to be a victim of domestic violence.