Lawyers say ‘Jennifer’s Law’ will require training for law enforcement and the court system – NBC Connecticut
Starting this week, new changes are expected to come into effect for Connecticut’s domestic violence laws.
“This law really allows victims to come forward if they have never been physically harmed,” said Christine Cocchiola, intimate partner violence advocate and doctoral student focused on coercive control at NYU.
First introduced by former Senator Alex Kasser and now with the governor’s signature, the first of its kind overhaul of Connecticut’s domestic violence laws is expected to come into effect July 1.
Dan Cargill, director of law enforcement for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said that starting Thursday, any offender who violates a restraining or protection order will face an additional felony charge of domestic violence.
“It’s an advantage to be able to follow through a legal process what the offender is actually doing and to link it all to family violence,” Cargill said.
Coercive review will also become a factor for judges to consider when considering applications for restraining orders. It is defined in part as controlling, regulating or monitoring the movements, communications, daily behavior and economic necessities of a household or family member or to isolate them from family or loved ones.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention how much family court judges really seem to fail to recognize this,” Cocchiola said.
Cocchiola says she and the Connecticut Protective Moms advocacy group are now planning to start providing coercive control education to the Connecticut Bar Association.
“The system isn’t working very well right now and we really need to start educating about it so people are becoming more aware of what it really looks like,” Cocchiola said.
“There is always room for growth in both law enforcement and the judiciary,” Cargill said.
Cargill said the coalition will now work with the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council and state police to develop standardized coercive control training statewide. He says he’s confident Connecticut family court judges will also adapt to the new definition of domestic violence.
“I think Justice will do a very good job of identifying these elements and the processes they must have changed,” Cargill said.
The legislation is informally known as “Jennifer’s Law,” in honor of Jennifer Dulos and Jennifer Magnano. The two women were victims of domestic violence.
Jennifer Magnano’s daughter, Jessica Rosenbeck, issued the following statement on the bill on Tuesday, writing: “We are extremely grateful that the law has been supported, passed and signed; that being said, we must now take action and ensure that it is implemented. We got Jen’s law passed over 10 years ago and it was almost ignored, it can’t happen here. Connecticut Protective Moms has worked tirelessly on a continuing education program to learn how to implement the bill. This is a monumental step and we are optimistic that it will save lives.