The governor of Tennessee recently proposed several bills designed to better protect citizens. Advocates against domestic violence are excited because one of the new bills will give repeat abusers longer jail sentences.
Domestic abuse, one of the many reasons a married couple may divorce, is currently considered by some in Tennessee to carry a punishment that doesn't fit the crime. With new regulations, the potentially increased punishment will likely be considered much more suitable.
The new restrictions will see individuals with a second domestic violence offense put in jail for 45 days. Any subsequent offenses thereafter will land the perpetrator in jail for 120 days each. One expert commented on this staggered system, touting its parallels to the escalation of domestic violence over time. According to her, early research indicated that abusers who went to jail and were held responsible for their actions were more likely to change their behaviors.
Adding to the benefits of this new bill is the fact that the longer a victim is away from his or her abuser, the more likely it is for that person to leave the situation because there is no constant reminder of retaliation from an abuser.
According to the Memphis Police Department, approximately one out of every five murders in 2011 was domestic.
Tennessee lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the bills sometime this month. It will reportedly cost the state $6 million for the governor's bills, if approved, to create any results.
But before the bill passes, there are many spouses out there who need immediate help. Consulting with a family law attorney can be a good step toward obtaining a restraining order or an order of protection against an abusive spouse.
Source: WREG, "Governor's Proposal Increases Penalties for Domestic Abuse," Daniel Hight, Jan. 6, 2012