Governor Signs Bill to Help Reduce Repeat Offenses in Domestic Violence Cases

May 22, 2012

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

Cain’s Risk Assessment Bill Signed into Law

AUGUSTA – A bill that will help law enforcement officials reduce repeat offenses in domestic violence cases was signed into law Monday by Governor Paul LePage. The measure, sponsored by House Democratic leader Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, standardizes the use of ‘risk assessment’ tools in the arrest and sentencing of domestic violence offenders.

“I thank Representative Cain for her commitment and leadership to end domestic violence in Maine,” said Governor LePage. “Victims of domestic abuse should not have to live in fear of their abusers, and this bill takes one more step in making sure victims feel safe. We must come together to end domestic violence and make it socially unacceptable in our state,” continued the Governor.

Cain’s bill, LD 1711, An Act To Mandate the Use of Standardized Risk Assessment in the Management of Domestic Violence Crimes would require the use of evidence-based domestic violence risk assessment by law enforcement officers in cases involving suspected or alleged domestic violence or abuse. The risk assessment would be given to both the bail commissioner and the district attorney involved in the case to help inform bail conditions and sentencing.

These evidence-based assessments have shown to more accurately predict offender recidivism, according to the Pew Center.

“The bill will help better identify those who are likely to commit acts of domestic violence again and stop them before they can,” said Cain, who worked with Gov. LePage to strengthen Maine’s domestic violence laws this year. “The governor and I share a zero tolerance policy for domestic violence. It is never okay for women and children to live in fear in their own homes.”

The legislation followed the triple murder last year in Dexter of Amy Lake and her children by the children's father.

While Maine has one of the lowest murder rates in the nation, more than 50 percent of those are directly related to domestic violence.

Cain said she would continue to prioritize the fight against domestic violence. “While strengthening law enforcement tools is critical for protecting battered women and their families, we must also work together on comprehensive prevention resources and treatment for families in crisis.”