Today Governor Terry Branstad announced the details of a bill to toughen penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders.
Branstad says he wants Iowans to feel safe. “The bill we are proposing, ensures that repeat offenders are treated as a more serious threat to both the victims and to the public.”
The bill proposes that repeat domestic abusers serve at least 85 percent of the prison time to which they are sentenced. It also mandates that some offenders wear GPS tracking bracelets under certain circumstances.
Tiffany Allison is a survivor of domestic abuse. She’s been lobbying for tougher penalties for repeat abusers and says the bill is a step in the right direction.
“When [my abuser] is released from prison, my whole life will change. I need a life safety plan. I have to speak truthfully and tell you that what we have now is not giving justice to our victims. It’s not protecting us either.”
The Governor points to the efforts of Sheila Lynch, whose daughter was kidnapped from a Target parking lot, brutalized and then killed in 2009, as to why he’s taken up this issue.
Rep. Marti Anderson (D) worked as a social worker before she was elected to serve in the Iowa Legislature. Since she first started working with victims in the 1970’s, it’s been a slow sea change.
“At first, people thought this was a family matter and didn’t want to interfere with the family. I think if you’ve hurt someone you’re pledged to love, that’s a crime,” Anderson says.
During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Allison about her experience with domestic violence. Joyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio’s Statehouse Correspondent; Rep. Anderson; and State Senator Charles Schneider (R) also weigh in.