From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis
For Immediate Release
April 23, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113
Senator Ellis Wins Senate Approval of Law to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today won the unanimous approval of the Texas Senate for legislation (Senate Bill 1253) aimed at helping victims of domestic violence in Texas. Ellis said the legislation would ensure that victims of domestic violence are not charged fees for protective orders, strengthen requirements that offenders complete intervention and prevention programs, and provide additional protections for children in the determination of conservatorship under law.
"We must do all we can to protect victims of domestic violence in Texas," said Senator Ellis.
"By removing fees for protective orders we will remove a barrier to justice for family violence victims."
Ellis pointed to statistics released by the Texas Department of Public Safety as evidence that domestic violence remains a significant problem in Texas. According to DPS, in 1995, 172,000 domestic violence incidents were reported to law enforcement in Texas -- a 5.7 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, 28,900 adults and children were sheltered due to domestic violence, and the Family Violence Hotline received more than 153,000 calls. In the five years since the State of Texas began compiling these records, domestic violence incidents have increased by 28%.
"Domestic violence is a tragedy in Texas," said Ellis. "Families who are victims of domestic violence must not be victimized again by a criminal justice system that is insensitive and unresponsive. The Family Code must truly protect and strengthen families."
Overview of Provisions in SB 1253
- clarifies that protective order applicants cannot be charged for any service relating to issuing a protective order;
- allows a court to assess attorney's fees against a protective order respondent and to collect them;
- clarifies that any adult can file for a protective order on behalf of a child, including adults who are not members of the child's household;
- strengthens requirements that offenders participate in and complete intervention and prevention programs;
- clarifies that joint managing conservatorship of children is not appropriate where there has been a finding of family violence.