FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Contact: Kevin Flannery, (573) 526-0949
Kander, Walsh Announce Legislation to Strengthen Domestic Violence Laws
Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jason Kander today announced that he will push for legislation to expand existing stalking laws to include harassers accessing or attempting to access the address of a participant in Missouri’s Safe at Home address confidentiality program. The bill has been filed on Secretary Kander’s behalf by Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors).
"Since 2007, our Safe at Home program has protected more than 2,000 women, men and children in Missouri who have escaped their abusers," Kander said. "Strengthening the program in this way will give law enforcement more tools to protect survivors. I thank Senator Walsh for her commitment to this issue and I urge the legislature to take up this bill and pass it this session."
The Safe at Home address confidentiality program provides survivors of sexual assault, rape, stalking and domestic violence a substitute mailing address through the secretary of state’s office. The secretary of state’s office administers the program, forwarding participants’ first class mail, certified mail and court documents to help keep their location confidential. In addition, the program allows participants to use the substitute address on public records, keeping assailants from using most current government documents to locate their victims.
However, the program is not a guarantee of safety. By expanding the set of factors within the offense of aggravated stalking to include accessing or attempting to access the address of a Safe at Home participant, this legislation allows law enforcement to crack down on abusers who attempt to locate their victims. Violators would be subject to a class D felony and up to four years imprisonment.
"I am honored to join Secretary Kander and sponsor legislation in the Missouri General Assembly that will reduce domestic violence against women, men and children while helping these victims escape their attackers," Walsh said. "I know my colleagues in the Senate and House will see the immediate need to move this measure quickly through the legislative process and onto the governor’s desk for his signature."
Secretary Kander has also encouraged members of the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to incorporate the proposal into their work on revising Missouri’s criminal code.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Kander’s and Walsh’s legislation is SB 710.
Visit www.sos.mo.gov to learn more about the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State.
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