Local News

Apr 24, 2014 7:26 PM by Janine Reyes

Law Meant to Protect Abuse Victims Rarely Used

CORPUS CHRISTI -- State Representative Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) authored the bill that unanimously passed the Texas Legislature in 2009 as 'Mary's Law.'

It's designed to protect victims of domestic violence from their accused abusers by allowing judges to give alleged domestic violence offenders ankle monitors. A companion pager provided to alleged victims would give them warning if the other person came too close.

In an earlier KRIS 6 News report, we found the provision had only been used 4 times. That's changed since October, up to 24 times now. Still, a judge in Nueces County has never taken part.

Proponents say that's not nearly enough and they want to strengthen the law. The problem is insufficient funding.

Cassandra Perez knows all too well how inadequate a protective order can be. She was stabbed 97 times with a box cutter by her boyfriend back in December 2009.

He had prior charges of domestic violence. Mary's Law is designed to prevent repeat offenses by allowing a layer of protection that's more than just a piece of paper, like a restraining order.

Holley-Lowe of the Women's Shelter of South Texas will be in Austin tomorrow to meet with the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Her goal is to strengthen the law and encourage more frequent application. She hopes additional funding can provide Nueces County with equipment to finally put Mary's Law to lifesaving use.

"That was always disturbing to know that a law that may protect victims of family violence is not be utilized," Holley-Lowe explained.

We checked with Adult Probation supervisors today, and while they do have GPS ankle monitors, they don't have equipment with a pager to alert victims and judges would need that to enforce this law.

A group of Social Working students from Texas A&M Kingsville are working on solutions to strengthen the law. Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, is also researching methods to make the law he authored more effective.

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