Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman is targeting the court system, the workplace and the home with a wide-ranging plan to protect and assist victims of domestic violence.
Accusing President Bush of remaining silent on the issue, the Connecticut senator will unveil a series of proposals Friday based on three goals: strengthening protections for battered women, helping victims lead safe and independent lives, and breaking the cycle of violence.
Lieberman says Bush has underfunded the landmark Violence Against Women Act and has missed opportunities to raise awareness about the damage done by batterers to millions of families. He promises to make the issue a top priority, starting with legal and law enforcement changes and continuing with a pledge to create 300 transitional homes for victims during his first term as president.
According to a summary provided by the campaign, Lieberman will propose cracking down on abusers who violate restraining orders by making such violations a crime. In many states, protective orders are issued by civil courts, not criminal courts, and violating them carries no punishment. Lieberman would require states to criminalize the violation of civil court orders to qualify for federal violence-prevention funding.
24-hour hot lines
He also would set up 24-hour hot lines so victims can obtain temporary restraining orders at any time and would create a program to help states share information so that restraining orders would be better enforced across state lines. Police would get more help in the form of federal matching funds for anti-domestic violence programs, and officers, judges, social workers and others would get more training on the complexities of domestic violence.
Lieberman proposed providing tax credits to employers that provide domestic violence education and support services; medical, financial and legal referrals; and flexible work, transfer and leave policies.
He also would allow victims to collect unemployment benefits if they have to leave work and move to escape an abusive relationship and would exempt those who are on welfare from work if they are in the midst of a legal battle.
Taking a long-range approach, Lieberman is seeking to prevent children from growing up to perpetuate abusive relationships. He proposes expanding the Violence Against Women Act to include funding for counseling for children who have been exposed to violence and refocusing mentoring programs to ensure boys are taught to develop stable, nonviolent relationships with women.