Senate approves bill creating confidentiality program for victims of crime
AUSTIN, TX--The Texas Senate yesterday passed a bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. that offers an important tool toward protecting victims of family violence, stalking and sexual assault.
Senate Bill 309 creates an address confidentiality program that would allow the Attorney General's Office to establish a confidential post office box address for any victim of family violence, sexual assault or stalking, once they meet the program's eligibility requirements.
"There is currently no mechanism in Texas designed to help victims of family violence, sexual assault or stalking from keeping their locations confidential to protect them from the perpetrators of the crime," said Sen. Lucio.
Because of a lack of safeguards in Texas that would help conceal the addresses of these victims from their perpetrators, victims lack the incentives to move to new locations. They remain in their residences, exposing them to continued danger from their offenders. In 2003, 153 women were killed by family violence.
Sen. Lucio noted, "This bill encourages these victims to seek new residences that offer more safety."
Victims applying for the program must also meet with a victims' assistance counselor and reside at an address unknown to the perpetrator. The bill also imposes criminal liability upon a person who makes a false statement on an application. It allows the Attorney General to establish procedures for requiring an applicant to submit evidence of family violence, sexual assault or stalking, and upon approval, the victim is assigned a P.O. Box number.
"This program is a very important step forward in our fight against crime and in our efforts to protect innocent victims," added Sen. Lucio. "Seventeen other states offer similar programs. It is time for Texas to set up this essential program."
Note: The bill must now be assigned to a House Committee and then to the full House for approval.
George Salinas, legislative aide, is handling this legislation and can be reached at 512-463-0127.