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BY TARA LAW
SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 10:12 PM EDT
Before President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act on Sept. 13, 1994, domestic abusers could cross state lines to avoid prosecution for beating their spouses, as law enforcement was not to required to listen to orders of protection filed in other states. Police officers were also generally discouraged from intervening in domestic violence cases.
Today, many experts credit VAWA with contributing to a dramatic decrease in the rate of domestic violence in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the overall rate of intimate-partner violence dropped 64% from 1993 to 2010.
Lawyers who helped to draft the bill say that part of the reason the legislation has been so successful is that it has helped to create a profound cultural change, and has encouraged Americans to take gender-based violence seriously.
By Melissa Jeltsen
06/05/2020 06:23 PM ET
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act, written by then-Sen. Joe Biden, flushed more than $1 billion into shelters and training for law enforcement, prosecutors and judges, with the intention of situating domestic violence squarely within the realm of the criminal justice system.
At the time, some women of color warned that making police the central response for domestic violence conflicts would backfire. “We know that the police are a source of violence in our communities, not just a deterrent to it,” Mari Matsuda, then a professor at Georgetown Law, wrote in Ms. Magazine in 1994. “We also know that violence against women is endemic and that the police don’t come when a woman from the ‘wrong’ part of town dials 911.”
Still, many hoped that better policing might stem the violence.
“Now we know it doesn’t,” said Leigh Goodmark, a law professor at the University of Maryland. “We have the data that shows involvement in the criminal legal system does not deter intimate partner violence, does not lower rates of intimate partner violence, and it does not make violence less severe.”
These days, domestic violence calls constitute the single largest category of calls received by police. Under VAWA, over $8 billion has been pumped into grant programs to address violence against women, with much of it directed toward police and prosecutors. But the issue has hardly been resolved. Although rates of domestic violence have plummeted since the 1990s, so has the overall crime rate, raising doubt about whether VAWA, and its focus on criminal justice solutions, deserves the full credit.
“We’ve trained police, we’ve trained prosecutors, we’ve poured money into that system,” Goodmark said. “One has to ask, what has that money bought us?”
violence against women has long been exploited by policymakers as justification for expanding the criminal justice system and shutting down reform, as sujatha baliga, a leader in the restorative justice space who advises on domestic violence cases across the U.S., has observed. Recently, concerns over domestic violence victims have been used to mount attacks against bail reform in New York and to increase sentence lengths in Oklahoma.
VAWA, she noted, was passed as part of the controversial 1994 crime bill, which encouraged states to adopt harsher criminal justice policies, provided funds to build more prisons, and contributed to the mass incarceration crisis today.
originally posted by: Fools
The odd thing is that as far as I know violence against women was actually illegal before the act.