Senate panel considers Wilson bill seeking to protect domestic-violence victims

A bill prime-sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson that would enhance protections for domestic-violence victims received a public hearing Tuesday in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Wilson, a member of the committee, testified that Senate Bill 6292 would allow domestic-violence victims to receive real-time notification when their perpetrators are nearby so they have time to leave or prepare for a possible confrontation.

“I’m quite confident that giving victims the chance to be better prepared, both physically and mentally, if their abuser is in the area will give them a far better chance to be able to protect themselves and survive before they are facing their abuser at the door or worse, with no warning,” Wilson, R-Vancouver, told the panel.

Senate Bill 6292 would provide domestic-violence victims with an additional level of protection by updating the state’s electronic-monitoring statutes to include modern real-time victim-notification technology. The committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its Feb. 1 meeting.

“In contemplating this bill, we discovered that electronic monitoring is allowed for domestic violence,” Wilson said. “But victim notification is currently only allowed for stalking. In this bill, I’m expanding the ability to use real-time victim notification using GPS tracking devices to all domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking protection orders, and domestic violence no-contact orders.”

Wilson shared her personal experiences during her childhood that led her to draft the bill.

“My mother was a victim for years of domestic violence,” Wilson said. “As her daughter and a child, I was impotent to help her then. My hope is this new technology will help other domestic-violence victims have a smidgen of control in their lives – even if it’s only a few minutes. If it reduces their chance of even one less injury or death, it’ll be worth it.”

Wilson told the committee that domestic-violence offenses made up 51 percent of all crimes against persons in Washington in 2014, noting there were nearly 50,000 domestic-violence offenses reported that year in the state. Of that total, 8,531 were violations of protection or no-contact orders. Wilson also noted that 854 homicides caused by domestic violence were committed over the last 20 years in Washington.