Advocates 'outraged' as domestic violence bills poised to fail

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the heels of an apparent murder-suicide involving a Big Island police officer, the community is vowing to fight domestic violence.

But advocates for domestic violence reform say they were dealt a major setback this week when they learned a series of bills aimed at better protecting victims are expected to fail this legislative session.

Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said lawmakers should prepare to get an earful.

"We are going to be expressing some outrage about it," she said.

The centerpiece legislation would have overhauled the criminal justice system by creating three degrees of domestic violence — from petty misdemeanor to felony level — to make the charges clearer to jurors.

"I think there's a lot of disappointment over the domestic violence bill that was supposed to create a comprehensive overhaul because there were so many stakeholders involved in the interim," said Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director for Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women.

Kreidman added, "I'm not exaggerating. It's going to impact thousands of survivors of domestic violence.

House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti said all of the domestic violence bills are "pretty complex," so it takes years to perfect them.

She also said some domestic violence bills are still alive, including one that could have helped the victim in Sunday's murder-suicide involving a Hawaii County police officer in Mountain View.

"If there are allegations of domestic violence, the survivor ... can go before the commission, file a report and they don't have to do a sworn statement," Belatti said.

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