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House passes Joshua's Law against domestic violence
Joshua Savyon, 9, attended Wilkins Elementary in Amherst, where the school superintendent said staff and students knew him as "a gentle and happy child." (COURTESY)
Gov. Maggie Hassan praised Wednesday's House vote.
"By taking this important step, we will help law enforcement and prosecutors better identify and stop repeat abusers, while providing victims with access to support and protections as early as possible," Hassan said. "Although we will never be able to relieve the pain caused by the tragic murder of Joshua Savyon, enacting this bill in his memory will help countless families and communities."
Hassan praised Joshua's mother, Becky Ranes of Amherst, for helping move the bill through the Legislature.
Under current law, someone who assaults or threatens a domestic partner or family member is usually charged under one of 17 state statutes that include such crimes as simple assault, criminal threatening, kidnapping or stalking.
Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice, who testified in favor of the bill in both the House and Senate, has said the change would improve the accuracy of state records in domestic violence cases, which in turn would improve the likelihood that such cases would be properly adjudicated and reported to federal authorities.
"Fifty percent of homicides and 92 percent of murder-suicide cases are domestic-violence related," Chandley said. "These numbers are unacceptable and we need to act now to combat domestic violence."
"Domestic violence is a crime mostly suffered in silence behind closed doors and almost always escalates," said Chandley. "It is time to call domestic violence what it is."
The bill allows judges to order that if there is a history or the possibility of abuse, visitation only take place in a facility equipped with a metal detector. The bill also establishes a commission to review the availability of centers with metal detectors and looks to expand the number throughout the state.
The bill goes back to the Senate because of changes the House made.
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