P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2001
AUSTIN -- Two anti-domestic violence bills authored by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to curb domestic abuse in Texas were approved without objection today by the Texas Senate.
"This legislation will help ensure that victims of domestic violence see the court system as a place of refuge, not an opportunity for continued abuse. We have a responsibility to protect victims of domestic violence and ensure that their abusers are rigorously prosecuted," Senator Nelson said.
Senate Bill 17 requires judges to notify prosecutors when considering a bail reduction for defendants accused of violent crimes. This legislation stems from a judge's controversial decision to lower bail from $1 million to $30,000 for Timothy Richardson, who was later convicted for the strangling death of his ex wife, without informing the prosecution.
Senate Bill 18 creates a criminal offense for interfering with emergency communication devices, the intent being to punish those who cut phone lines to prevent 9-1-1 calls. The bill makes this crime a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
The Texas Department of Public Safety estimates that more than a third of all women killed in Texas (35% in 1997) are murdered by their intimate male partners. DPS estimates that in 1999, there were 99 women in this category. Overall there were more than 175,000 cases of domestic violence in Texas in 1999 and an estimated thousands more that went unreported.