Two Critical Bills to be Heard by New Hampshire Legislators, Tuesday April 15, 2014

Mother of Joshua Savyon to speak at House hearing

(Concord, NH) On April 15th, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear two significant pieces of legislation, both addressing victim protections in New Hampshire: one is focusing on helping victims of domestic violence and their children, the other seeking to bolster protections for victims of human sex and labor trafficking. 
 
Both hearings will be held in the Legislative Office Building, Room 204, 33 N. State Street, Concord, NH.
 
Summary of the bills: 
 
SB 318, establishing the crime of domestic violence.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 1:00 p.m.
Becky Ranes, mother of Joshua Savyon, to speak on measure creating a crime of domestic violence on behalf of victims. At this time Ms. Ranes’ participation will be limited to her testimony. She will not be taking one-on-one interviews. Copies of prepared testimony will be on hand for media. Your cooperation in respecting her request for privacy is appreciated. 
 
SB 317, relative to trafficking in persons.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 10:30 a.m.
Margeaux Gray, child sex trafficking survivor, to share her experience and speak to importance of trafficking victim protections. 
 
*Read on for background information on both bills. 
 
 
Background Information on SB 318 
The family and supporters of domestic violence homicide victim Joshua Savyon plan to pack the hearing room at the Legislative Office Building next Tuesday, April 15th at 1:00 p.m. in Room 204 to stand in support of SB 318. This bill will create a crime of domestic violence.
 
In August of 2013, nine-year-old Joshua Savyon was shot and killed by his father during a court-ordered supervised visit. Despite having threatened Joshua and his mother’s lives previously, Joshua’s father was granted supervised visitation privileges and used that opportunity to carry out his threat against Joshua in the ultimate act of domestic violence, after which he turned the gun on himself.  Joshua’s mother, Becky Ranes, will testify in favor SB 318, as she did in the Senate. Ms. Ranes has been lauded by stakeholders for her advocacy efforts and was honored by Governor Maggie Hassan at her State of the State Address, with the Governor urging the full Legislature to pass Joshua’s Law.
 
While New Hampshire has adequate civil protections for victims, it is one of just 15 states in the country that does not have a crime of domestic violence. Because of this, violent offenders go unrecognized as abusers and some victims aren’t even aware that what they are experiencing is in fact domestic violence, and as a result do not receive support services for themselves and their children.
 
Under current law, an abuser who assaults their partner in their home is often charged with the same crime as person who punches a stranger at a sporting event: “simple assault”. This is a problem, because statistics show that the violence between intimate partners carries much higher risk for potential escalated violence, including homicide, while non-intimate partner violence typically does not. In the October 2012 report of the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee, 50% of homicides and a staggering 92% of murder-suicides in New Hampshire are domestic violence related. Law enforcement needs to be able to distinguish crimes of domestic violence from crimes against non-intimate partners and non-family members.
 
SB 318 takes charges that are commonly used in domestic violence related cases and reorganizes them under one crime of “Domestic Violence”. This bill changes nothing in New Hampshire’s civil statutes, nor does it change the substance of the crimes that law enforcement currently uses to charge domestic violence abusers. This bill will not create a mandate, because prosecutors will still have the discretion as to how they will charge these crimes, depending on the specifics of each case. It is simply a reorganization in statute to help distinguish between instances of domestic violence and violence between non-intimate partners or household members. 
 
By creating a separate crime of domestic violence, the criminal justice system will have the tools they need to assist victims and hold abusers accountable. SB 318 will allow for collection and maintenance of data on domestic violence occurring in New Hampshire, so coordinated efforts towards domestic violence prevention, education, and intervention will be improved, and ongoing multi-agency efforts to improve victim notification of important court dates and changes in the status of their case will be enhanced. 
 
SB 318 is supported by the following agencies:
NHCADSV and its 14 member programs
New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police
Child and Family Services
New Hampshire Department of Justice
New Hampshire Department of Safety
New Hampshire County Attorney’s Association
New Hampshire Legal Assistance
New Hampshire Sheriff’s Association
 
We encourage media to attend Tuesday’s hearing which will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the LOB, Room 204.  For more information please contact Amanda Grady Sexton at 603-548-9377 or email Amanda@nhcadsv.org
 
**At this time Ms. Ranes’ participation will be limited to her testimony. She will not be taking one-on-one interviews. Copies of prepared testimony will be on hand for media. Your cooperation in respecting her request for privacy is appreciated.
 
 
Background Information on SB 317 
On April 15th at 10:30 am the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing for SB 317, a measure seeking to address human trafficking victim protections in NH. The Granite State was once on the forefront of human trafficking policy, having been one of the first states in the nation to criminalize this activity. Since then, with the heightened awareness and education around trafficking, we have fallen behind. In a recent study by the Polaris Project—the organization considered to be the national authority on human trafficking—NH was found to be the second-to-worst state in the union for legal protections offered to victims of sex and labor trafficking. 
 
SB 317 does several critical things to strengthen our current trafficking statute; among them, SB 317: makes prostituting minors a felony; provides protection from criminal prosecution or juvenile delinquency proceedings to children who have been trafficked; makes it a felony to knowingly force a person to engage in sex or labor acts against their will; and it creates a civil cause of action for trafficking victims, allowing them to sue their trafficker for damages.
 
Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing, most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world, and NH is not immune. The first federal human trafficking case to be prosecuted was at an apple farm in Litchfield, NH. With the recent discovery of a 15-year-old runaway found being trafficked out of a hotel in Salem, NH just this year, we know that NH is not immune. Trafficking is not just an urban problem; it is happening right in our communities, and it needs to be stopped. It is time for NH to strengthen our human trafficking statute and speak out for who cannot speak for themselves.
 
SB 317 is supported by the following agencies:
NHCADSV and its 14 member programs
New Hampshire Department of Justice
New Hampshire Department of Labor
New Hampshire Department of Safety
Every Child Matters
New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police
New Hampshire Sheriff’s Association
New Hampshire Legal Assistance
Child and Family Services
 
We encourage media to attend Tuesday’s hearing which will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the LOB, Room 204.  For more information please contact Amanda Grady Sexton at 603-548-9377 or email Amanda@nhcadsv.org
 
 

Get HELP Fast

Domestic Violence
24-hour Hotline
1-866-644-3574

Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline
1-800-277-5570

Find a Crisis Center

Call our hotlines anywhere in New Hampshire for support. Stalking victims should call the Domestic Violence Hotline. TTY available at 1-800-Relay-NH.

Donate