The Texas Council on Family Violence estimates one in three Texans will be a victim of domestic violence throughout their lifetime. But a new law promises to prevent domestic violence by giving the public access to information about repeat offenders.
State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado authored HB 5202, which creates a website that anyone can use to search if someone they know or may be dating has two or more family violence convictions. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law June 11, which went into effect immediately.
“This legislation creates a central database of convicted abusers who have certain convictions such as assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and stalking,” Criado said. “This tool is going to help us save lives.”
Mimi Sterling is the CEO of The Family Place, which provides safe housing and counseling for those in danger of domestic violence and teaches skills that create independence.
“Having a centralized database of repeat offenders of violent crimes, especially those in the domestic violence space, will allow people who may have suspicions of a partner to double check if they have an active record,” Sterling said.
Before this law, individuals would have to pay to get a background check to access this information.
“This law dissolves that economic barrier in the hopes of preventing future family violence, ensures that young girls are not getting lost in toxic dangerous romantic relationships without knowing the history of their abuser,” Criado explained.
Aliyah Miranda survived eight years of domestic violence. She believes this tool will help people protect themselves and she says she would have used the tool herself when she was younger.
“Hopefully, women will have the chance and will actually use it before going on a date—just go on the website and just check,” she said. “I would have checked and maybe I wouldn’t have ended up where I ended up.”
Rep. Criado says the website will likely open in January 2024 and will be run by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Source: Olivia Leach, CBS Texas. Click here to view original post.