News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, on protection for violence victims
News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, on protection for violence victims:
Given that the Louisiana Legislature isn’t exactly famed for its quickness to act, the handling of recent legislation targeting domestic violence must seem like a miracle to those who have pushed for years to strengthen Louisiana laws designed to protect spouses and domestic partners.
The passage of House Bill 1142 was especially encouraging. The legislation is better known as Gwen’s Law, after Gwen Salley. The Grand Cane woman was killed by her estranged husband, who then killed himself, less than a month before the Legislature passed and Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the bill that bears her name. The Salleys’ 7-year-old daughter was held at gunpoint in the earlier incident, too.
Michael Salley had been arrested shortly before the killing on charges of false imprisonment, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon. But Salley was able to bail himself out.
Gwen’s Law will make it easier to keep domestic batterers in jail, at least if they’re accused of felonies, by requiring hearings at which bail may be denied if a judge determines the defendant poses a continuing domestic violence threat.
The Legislature also passed a law forbidding those convicted of domestic abuse battery from possessing a firearm or getting a concealed carry permit.
But it’s important to remember something that police officers often say: At the end of the day, a protective order, as important as it can be, is just a piece of paper. The same is true of laws designed to reduce domestic violence.
They’re only as good as the willingness of local police agencies and the court system to treat domestic violence as the serious threat to public health and the public peace that it truly is.
But these new tools will aid law enforcement even more in their efforts to protect and aid victims of domestic violence. The Legislature is to be commended for its work to help these families.