TOPEKA — A bill proposed by the House seeks to give domestic violence victims a more advance and accurate warning as to when their abuser is scheduled to be released from jail.
The Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee held a hearing Thursday regarding HB 2270, which included testimony from domestic violence advocates and law enforcement officials.
HB 2270, which is sponsored by Reps. Ponka-We Victors (D-Wichita) and Pam Curtis (D-Kansas City), would require law enforcement to notify victims of domestic violence of when the person arrested would likely be released.
The bill states victims should be alerted based on the bond schedule when the earliest the person arrested could be released. As it stands now, victims have no idea how long they have to prepare for the arrested person to be freed and according to Curtis, it is often less time than expected.
To speak in support of the bill were Sara Rust-Martin, Legal and Policy Director for the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence and Tracey Gay, Director of Client Services for the Wichita Family Crisis Center.
VINE (Victim Information and Notification System) is used commonly by law enforcement around Kansas to alert victims who have signed up to when the person arrested is released from custody. According to Curtis, HB 2270 would address the gap between the time of the arrest and their release.
“That time is uncertain for those victims, so often times when a person is arrested it’s a highly emotionally charged time. They have no idea how much time they have to gather their belongings, to make a plan, to get to a safe place,” Rust-Martin said.
The bill also includes a provision that would make it illegal for the arrested person to contact the victim for 72 hours, unless ruled otherwise by a judge.
Former law enforcement official Ed Klumpp gave the opposing statement to the committee. Klumpp said bond schedules — what law enforcement would use to give an estimated time of release to the victims — can be different depending on the charge and are subject to change. Additionally, police officers do not have the bond schedules on hand — something that proponents of the bill addressed by adding that law enforcement agencies would be required to train their officers on the new policies.
Klumpp also questioned the policy in terms of what the protocol would be if law enforcement responds to a domestic violence call, but the person is arrested for something else, like already having a warrant out for their arrest.
When asked by the committee, Klumpp stated he would support the bill with some revisions.
A final action is expected soon by the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee.
Kate Mays is a University of Kansas senior from Lenexa majoring in journalism.