Domestic violence is a serious and costly problem that hurts us all.

Roughly half of Maine’s homicides each year are lethal incidents of domestic violence.

Annually, more than 5,000 domestic assaults are reported to law enforcement agencies in Maine, but since it is an under-reported crime, the actual number of individuals affected is probably much higher.

We should be concerned about the long-term impact of domestic violence on victims and their children. Children exposed to domestic abuse are more likely to experience developmental delays, learning and behavior problems and other adverse emotional, physical and psychological issues.

Research indicates that chronic exposure to domestic violence can cause changes in the brain development of young children.

This session, state lawmakers have the opportunity to increase safety for victims of domestic violence by improving the way domestic violence crimes are handled.

L.D. 1711 would require law enforcement to administer a standardized domestic violence risk assessment and report the results when bail conditions are being determined in criminal domestic violence cases.

This kind of specialized risk assessment could provide meaningful information about the likelihood that a defendant might re-offend while he is at liberty awaiting trial.

Requiring the use of a domestic violence risk assessment when bail is being set is a practical, cost-effective way to identify cases where heightened safeguards are needed.

We can learn lessons from the tragedies of the past and take reasonable steps to prevent avoidable harm.

Bridget O’Rourke


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