Victims of domestic violence in Tennessee no longer have to testify against alleged abusers. That’s thanks to a new state law that went into effect Sunday. It eliminates what the head of the Nashville YWCA says was long considered a “fatal flaw to the system.”
Sharon Roberson says many cases have historically been dropped because victims were too scared to appear in court, and police and prosecutor testimony was not enough.
"If someone has attempted to kill you it’s very difficult for you to sit in a courtroom with that person," says Roberson. "If that case can be made without further traumatizing that victim, that is a win-win for all of us."
Roberson says equally significant in the new legislation are changes to bond conditions when there’s probable cause that a person is a danger to a victim. A court or magistrate must now impose a 12-hour holding period, notify the victim and issue a no-contact order as a condition of release. Those measures had been left to a judge’s discretion previously.
The next step, according to Roberson, is to get lawmakers to limit firearm access for those who’ve been determined to be a domestic violence threat. Tennessee has the fourth-highest rate in the nation of women killed by men, most often with a gun.