Target: Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the House
Goal: Encourage the passage of a new bill aimed at toughening domestic violence laws and supporting survivors
Domestic violence cases constitute some of the most overlooked crimes with the most under-served victims. However, a recent high-profile murder case in Massachusetts has led to a call within the state for stricter laws against domestic violence. Sign the petition and lend your support to the effort to punish abusers and protect victims and their families.
The August 2013 murder of Jennifer Martel by her boyfriend Jared Remy sent shockwaves through Massachusetts. Martel was a hardworking, ambitious 27-year-old, a young mother who had just completed her associate’s degree online and who had been accepted to a four-year program at Framingham State College. Jared Remy, on the other hand, had been in and out of courtrooms since his teens, worming his way out of assault and domestic violence charges with the help of a high-priced lawyer. Remy, the son of Red Sox legend Jerry Remy, has appeared in court as the defendant in twenty criminal cases. He has never been sentenced to imprisonment;the longest time he spent in jail was 81 days as he awaiting trial for beating up his then-girlfriend. “I slapped her around,” he admitted in the police report, but told police he’d likely only get more probation. He was right.
The night before he killed Jennifer Martel, Jared Remy grabbed her by the neck and slammed her head into a bathroom mirror. Martel planned to press charges against him but was convinced by Remy’s parents not to after they told her they’d taken away his key to the apartment that the couple shared. The next night, Remy broke in and brutally murdered Martel, stabbing her repeatedly in an attack that ended outside, where friends and neighbors tried to intervene. It was too late.
There were twenty opportunities for the court to put Jared Remy behind bars, and on twenty separate occasions, the court absolutely failed in its duty. The court system is in dire need of reform, and a recently-proposed bill before the Massachusetts state legislature would institute a number of safety measures for survivors of domestic violence. Under the law, domestic violence suspects would be required to be held for at least six hours before being allowed to post bail in order to give the accuser time to get to a safe location. Judges would also “have uniform access to all available information about a defendant, including prior charges and past restraining orders,” the Boston Globe reports, and would be required to undergo training every two years on how to handle domestic violence cases. Perhaps most significantly, the new law would exempt domestic violence cases from a current state law that allows the victim of an assault to drop charges if he or she feels the accused has properly compensated him or her.
Honor the memory of Jennifer Martel, and stand with the many other less-publicized victims of domestic violence: sign the petition and make Massachusetts safer.
Dear Mr. Speaker,
I am writing to express my support for the proposed anti-domestic violence bill before the House. Domestic violence is an insidious, often misunderstood crime, and its victims are among those most under-served by the courts system. The new bill is a huge step in the right direction in gaining justice for survivors of domestic violence and in protecting others from repeat offenders.
The new bill displays a much greater understanding of and sympathy for the plight of domestic violence victims, granting 15 days a year of work leave for victims to sort out case-related issues, establishing separate police logs for domestic violence complaints, instituting harsher penalties for abuse meant to keep the victim from prosecuting, and preventing the victim from dropping the charges after “satisfaction” or compensation. Its mandatory six-hour hold time for those accused of domestic violence also acknowledges that accusers face severe safety concerns.
The bill is a promising beginning, but we have much further to go in the fight against domestic violence and in our efforts to provide support–legally, medically, and emotionally–to those affected by it. Mandatory jail time for repeat offenders, legal protection for pets in homes where violence takes place, and more counseling and advisory services for survivors of domestic violence are all measures that I hope to see implemented in the near future. Until then, I am greatly appreciative of the current anti-domestic violence bill, and I lend it my full support.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons