Gov. Haslam in favor of increased protection for domestic violence victims

Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:00 am

Tennessee’s governor has come out in favor of granting increased protection to victims of domestic violence.

It’s only a small step, mind you. But that’s how changing the law’s protection usually comes, just a bit at a time.

Gov. Bill Haslam would require that those accused of domestic violence be held for at least 12 hours before being released. The idea is to allow the accuser time to make other arrangements for personal safety.

State law already provides for a 12-hour cooling-off period, but it also gives judges’ discretion to allow earlier release if they think it’s justified. The new proposal would remove that discretion and make the holding period mandatory.

Earlier this month, a Nashville judge ordered the release of a man only a few hours after he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. Police were called back when the man confronted the woman again as she gathered her belongings.

Those who want tougher rules must keep in mind that the accused has not been convicted of a crime. Any requirement of the law must consider that. You can’t throw away the cell door key based on an accusation.

But 12 hours is not much time for a violence victim, who may be battered and addled, to find shelter and make other emergency provisions for personal safety.

What the governor proposes seems sensible.

-The Post-Intelligencer, Paris, Tennessee

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