Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin praised the United States Congress for putting aside partisan politics and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), protecting hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rhode Island programs to support victims of domestic violence. Attorney General Kilmartin has been an outspoken advocate for VAWA, urging Senate and House passage of the Act since last year. The Act, which previously passed the Senate earlier this month, nearly fell victim of the partisan standoff in the House of Representatives.
"As prosecutors, we see the consequences daily of domestic violence on victims and families. Just this week, Armando Garcia was sentenced to life for the murder of his girlfriend, Brooke Lee Verdoia, and the trial of Donald Greenslit for the murder and dismemberment of Stacie Dorego is underway," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "These are just two of the nearly 800 domestic violence felonies we prosecute each year."
The VAWA passed by both the Senate and House includes new initiatives to address violence in teenage relationships, as well as improvements in the response to sexual assault across disciplines by implementing best practices, training programs and communication tools among professionals in the fields of health care, law enforcement and legal services. In addition, the Senate bill ensures that VAWA protects all victims, including those in same-sex relationships.
"Since the enactment of VAWA in 1994, domestic violence and sexual assault have come out of the shadows and been subjected to the bright light of the justice system, advocacy groups and legislative efforts. Much progress has been made and recent nationwide statistics on the reduction in domestic and sexual violence are encouraging. But, a great deal of work still needs to be done."
Attorney General Kilmartin praised Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline for their continued support of VAWA and efforts to secure enough votes to pass the Republican-controlled House. "Our congressional delegation has, from day one, been a strong voice in protecting all victims of domestic violence.
"Law enforcement and prosecutors rely on this legislation, and victims desperately need the core services authorized by VAWA to keep them safe and help them heal," continued Kilmartin. "Today's passage in the House sends a clear message that this country does not tolerate domestic violence in any form."
Rhode Island has made great use of the funds it has received through VAWA over the years in its efforts to address this scourge of violence. These funds go toward maintaining and improving the statewide system of support for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence through preventative programs such as advocacy, training, legal services and housing for victims, as well as prosecution of offenders through specialized prosecutors and improved training for police.