Parnell Leads Effort to Reduce Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
December 3, 2009, AnchorageAlaska – With a goal of ending the epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence within a decade, Governor Sean Parnell today unveiled a comprehensive initiative to fight the cycle of abuse. The package of proposed legislation, budget requests, and administrative actions will comprehensively address domestic violence and sexual assault.
“Today we’re putting domestic violence and sexual assault at the forefront,” Governor Parnell said. “We’ll make it intolerable, unacceptable and the ramifications for those committing these crimes against Alaskans, unbearable.”
The governor’s 10-year plan to stop the epidemic of violence in Alaska’s homes and communities focuses on putting abusers behind bars, protecting victims, and helping them heal, and preventing abuse.
Among the initiative’s highlights:
- In partnership with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault and the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, production and promotion of extensive public education campaign encouraging Alaskans to “Choose Respect”;
- Provide a more meaningful law enforcement presence for every community that desires it; notably by hiring 15 Village Public Safety Officers (VPSO) every year for the next ten years, as well as more troopers;
- Toughen guidelines for prosecutors in handling sexual assault cases, including limits on plea deals;
- Lead the charge to dramatically increase pro bono legal services available to victims;
- Increase funding for shelters to continue providing victims with the means to break free from abusive situations; and
- Coordination of state, federal, tribal and non-profit programs addressing domestic violence and sexual assault through the hiring of a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention coordinator at the Department of Law.
“Domestic violence and sexual assault must be prevented and stigmatized so pervasively that offenders know that they will face irreparable social, as well as legal, consequences,” Attorney General Dan Sullivan said.
Sullivan noted that the governor’s initiative differs from past efforts to address the problem because of its comprehensive approach, broad-based public education campaign, and guaranteed follow-through with the creation of a coordinator for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and response.
In his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011, Governor Parnell has allocated funds for positions and programs to end what he describes as “this blight on our state.” This includes $75 million for the state’s new crime lab, $1.6 million for 15 VPSOs, and $1 million for VPSO housing.
Meanwhile, the Department of Law is moving ahead with updated guidelines for prosecutors “to ensure that sex offenders are dealt with harshly and shown no leniency,” Sullivan said.
Under the guidelines, when accepting plea deals these perpetrators will be required to plead guilty to sex crimes so that they do not avoid being registered as sex offenders.