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New KY Domestic Violence Law on the Books This Week

July 12, 2010

FRANKFORT, Ky. - A high-profile murder case in Lexington last fall has prompted new domestic violence legislation by the Kentucky General Assembly, that goes into effect this Thursday. The measure is called Amanda's Bill and is named after state worker Amanda Ross, who was gunned down outside her home. The measure allows judges to demand that those who violate a domestic violence order wear an electronic GPS tracking device to help ensure that abusers keep a safe distance from victims.

Sharon Currens, executive director of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, says the new law could help the women, almost one in four, who will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes.

"This gives us another tool to help petitioners in situations where safety is a key issue."

Felony charges could be levied against violators who attempt to remove a tracking bracelet.

While Currens sees the law as a valuable tool, she's concerned about the cost and details of the monitoring system for counties.

"We know that the GPS system is expensive. We know that it's going to be up to each county on how they implement it, and how they get the availability of the bracelets and of this tool."

Domestic violence activists unsuccessfully pushed to extend court protective orders to dating partners in the last legislative session. As it stands now, only married or divorced couples, those who live together or once did, or share a child are able to get protective orders. Currens says her group will continue to petition state lawmakers to broaden the law to cover those in dating relationships, such as college students.

"They're easy to track or to stalk. So, we think it's really critical. There are a lot of older women who choose not to live with someone, yet they're in a relationship, they need to have access to the protection of a protective order, and currently they can't get it."

The man accused in the death of Amanda Ross, former state representative Steve Nunn, has pleaded not guilty.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY