September 1, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster today announced he has created a task force on domestic violence and will hold a series of meetings to examine current laws and identify recommendations for the legislature to best protect victims of domestic violence.
"Missouri's overall legal framework addressing domestic violence was created 30 years ago, and I believe it is time for us to examine how the laws are working today and identify any improvements needed to the system," Koster said. "Victims of domestic violence are among our state's most vulnerable, and we owe it to them to make sure that we are working as seamlessly as possible through all aspects of our law enforcement and legal systems to protect them."
Koster is inviting representatives of groups involved in the domestic violence-protection system, including law enforcement, prosecutors, victims' advocates, and probation and parole and court officials, to review the laws and their practices, and to suggest changes needed to improve the system.
The first meeting of the task force will be held in St. Louis September 7, from 9:00 - 11:30 a.m., at the Eric P. Newman Education Center, 320 S. Euclid Avenue (behind Children's Hospital). Additional meetings will be held September 20 in Columbia and September 27 in Kansas City.
Koster has invited legislators to participate as members of the task force. In St. Louis, the panel will include Senators Joan Bray and Robin Wright-Jones, and Representatives Tishaura Jones, Chris Kelly, Margo McNeil, Stacey Newman, Jeff Roorda, and Jill Schupp.
Since Missouri first enacted its laws related to domestic violence in 1980, the legislature has periodically addressed the issue by amending the criminal code, creating civil orders of protection, and expanding victims' services, according to the Koster. The Attorney General said he believes that this new, comprehensive review of the laws will identify problems or areas where the laws fall short in protecting victims and preventing domestic violence.
"Advocates and domestic violence survivors throughout our state appreciate Attorney General Koster's leadership in establishing the Domestic Violence Task Force," said Colleen Coble, Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "We are very pleased to have this opportunity for the state to review its domestic violence laws, with the goal of legislative changes that better protect victims of domestic violence."
Koster plans to issue a report this fall, in advance of the next legislative session.