H. R. 3977
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 8, 2012
Mr. Honda introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To consolidate, improve, and reauthorize programs that support families and victims in the justice system affected by domestic violence.
Short title; Findings
This Act may be cited
Domestic Violence Judicial
Support Act of 2012.
The Congress finds as follows:
The 2010 National Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Female victims of intimate partner violence experienced different patterns of violence than male victims. Female victims experienced multiple forms of these types of violence; male victims most often experienced physical violence.
A critical issue in domestic violence cases is the risk of continued victimization during the pretrial period. Offenders may violate no-contact orders, further injure victims, or intimidate them. Such occurrences highlight a critical need for efficiency in court proceedings.
Of 3,750 intimate partner violence cases filed in State courts in 16 large urban counties in 2002, children were present during the violent incident in 36 percent of the cases. Of those children who were present, 60 percent directly witnessed the violence. Court collection of information and statistics related to children who witnessed a violent incident between intimate partners assists courts in identifying children in need of services as a result of such an incident.
Domestic violence cases involving spouses and other intimate partners often entail complex processes that require careful consideration by the criminal justice system. In the 1990s, many jurisdictions began to create specialized domestic violence courts for judges to ensure follow-through on cases, aid domestic violence victims, and hold offenders accountable, with the assistance of justice and social service agencies. By specializing in domestic violence offenses, these courts aim to process cases more efficiently and deliver more consistent rulings about domestic violence statutes. Some domestic violence courts also incorporate a stronger focus on rehabilitation of offenders and deterrence of repeat offenses. These courts can also be more sensitive to the needs of victims and be able to direct victims to additional community resources.
One-third of violent felony defendants in State criminal courts have been charged with domestic violence.
Teen dating violence cases are best handled by courts who have had the training to make informed decisions and have the resources to make services available, on-site and in the community, including—
victim witness services;
assistance with civil restraining orders, paternity determinations, custody and access orders, and child support orders; and
locating other assistance needed by teen victims.
There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Congress has charged juvenile courts with oversight of child welfare cases. Highly trained and engaged judges focused on effective case oversight and system reform have been shown to save significant foster care costs for the States.
A 2009 study by the Department of Justice found that Kentucky saved $85,000,000 in one year through the issuance of protection orders and the reduction in violence resulting from the issuance of such orders. Examples such as this are prevalent across the Nation.
Children with a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer spend 7.5 months less in foster care, experience fewer out of home placements, and have significantly improved education performance, compared to their peers without a volunteer advocate.
By reducing long-term foster care placements, subsequent victimization, and reentry into the foster care system, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program substantially reduces child welfare costs.
Consolidation of grants to support families and victims in the justice system
Title III of division B of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (Public Law 106–386; 114 Stat. 1509) is amended by striking the section preceding section 1302 (42 U.S.C. 10420), as amended by section 306 of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109–162; 119 Stat. 316), and inserting the following:
Court training and supervised visitation improvements
The Attorney General may make grants to States, units of local government, courts (including juvenile courts), Indian tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, legal services providers, and victim services providers to improve the response of all aspects of the civil and criminal justice system to families and victims with a history of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse.
Use of funds
A grant under this section may be used to—
provide supervised visitation and safe visitation exchange of children and youth by and between parents in situations involving domestic violence, dating violence, child sexual abuse, sexual assault, or stalking;
develop and promote State, local, and tribal legislation, policies, and best practices for improving civil and criminal court functions, responses, practices, and procedures in cases involving a history of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse, including cases in which the victim proceeds pro se;
educate court-based and court-related personnel (including custody evaluators and guardians ad litem) and child protective services workers on the dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault (including child sexual abuse), and stalking, including information on perpetrator behavior, evidence-based risk factors for domestic and dating violence homicide, and on issues relating to the needs of victims, including safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality, including cases in which the victim proceeds pro se;
provide appropriate resources in juvenile court matters to respond to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault (including child sexual abuse), and stalking and ensure necessary services dealing with the health and mental health of victims are available;
enable courts or court-based or court-related programs to develop or enhance—
court infrastructure (such as specialized courts, consolidated courts, dockets, intake centers, or interpreter services);
community-based initiatives within the court system (such as court watch programs, victim assistants, pro se victim assistance programs, or community-based supplementary services);
offender management, monitoring, and accountability programs;
safe and confidential information-storage and information-sharing databases within and between court systems;
education and outreach programs to improve community access, including enhanced access for underserved populations; and
other projects likely to improve court responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
provide civil legal assistance and advocacy services, including legal information and resources in cases in which the victim proceeds pro se, to—
victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and
nonoffending parents in matters—
that involve allegations of child sexual abuse;
that relate to family matters, including civil protection orders, custody, and divorce; and
in which the other parent is represented by counsel;
collect data and provide training and technical assistance, including developing State, local, and tribal model codes and policies, to improve the capacity of grantees and communities to address the civil and criminal justice needs of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who have legal representation, who are proceeding pro se, or are proceeding with the assistance of a legal advocate; and
improve training and education to assist judges, judicial personnel, attorneys, child welfare personnel, and legal advocates in the civil, criminal, and juvenile justice systems.
In making grants for purposes described in paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (b), the Attorney General shall consider—
the number of families and victims to be served by the proposed programs and services;
the extent to which the proposed programs and services serve underserved populations;
the extent to which the applicant demonstrates cooperation and collaboration with nonprofit, nongovernmental entities in the local community with demonstrated histories of effective work on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including State or tribal domestic violence coalitions, State or tribal sexual assault coalitions, local shelters, and programs for domestic violence and sexual assault victims; and
the extent to which the applicant demonstrates coordination and collaboration with State, tribal, and local court systems, including mechanisms for communication and referral.
In making grants under paragraph (8) of subsection (b), the Attorney General shall take consider the extent to which the applicant has experience providing training, education, or other assistance to the judicial system related to family violence, child custody, child abuse and neglect, adoption, foster care, supervised visitation, divorce, and parentage.
The Attorney General may make a grant under this section to an applicant that—
demonstrates expertise in the areas of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or child sexual abuse, as appropriate;
ensures that any fees charged to individuals for use of supervised visitation programs and services are based on the income of those individuals, unless otherwise provided by court order;
for a court-based program, certifies that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking are not charged fees or any other costs related to the filing, petitioning, modifying, issuance, registration, enforcement, withdrawal, or dismissal of matters relating to the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
demonstrates that adequate security measures, including adequate facilities, procedures, and personnel capable of preventing violence, and adequate standards are, or will be, in place (including the development of protocols or policies to ensure that confidential information is not shared with courts, law enforcement agencies, or child welfare agencies unless necessary to ensure the safety of any child or adult using the services of a program funded under this section), if the applicant proposes to operate supervised visitation programs and services or safe visitation exchange;
certifies that the organizational policies of the applicant do not require mediation or counseling involving offenders and victims being physically present in the same place, in cases where domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking is alleged;
certifies that any person providing legal assistance through a program funded under this section has completed or will complete training on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including child sexual abuse, and related legal issues; and
certifies that any person providing custody evaluation or guardian ad litem services through a program funded under this section has completed or will complete training developed with input from and in collaboration with a tribal, State, territorial, or local domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking organization or coalition on the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault, including child sexual abuse, that includes training on how to review evidence of past abuse and the use of evidenced-based theories to make recommendations on custody and visitation.
Authorization of appropriations
There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section, $22,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2017. Amounts appropriated pursuant to this subsection shall remain available until expended.
Court-appointed special advocate program
Subtitle B of the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 13011 et seq.) is amended—
in section 216 (42
U.S.C. 13012), by striking
January 1, 2010 and inserting
January 1, 2015;
in section 217 (42 U.S.C. 13013)—
(A) of subsection (c)(2), by striking
Code of Ethics and
Standards for Programs; and
by adding at the end the following:
Reporting by grantees
An organization that receives a grant under this section for a fiscal year shall submit to the Administrator a report regarding the use of the grant for the fiscal year, including a discussion of outcome performance measures (which shall be established by the Administrator) to determine the effectiveness of the programs of the organization in meeting the needs of children in the child welfare system.
in subsection (a)
of section 219 (42 U.S.C. 13014), by striking
fiscal years 2007 through
2011 and inserting
the fiscal years 2013 through
Reauthorization of the child abuse training programs for judicial personnel and practitioners
Subsection (a) of section 224 of the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 13024) is amended to read as follows:
There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subtitle $2,300,000 for each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2017.