CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed new laws designed to crack down on domestic violence in Illinois by increasing penalties for repeat offenders and by requiring school districts to adopt policies regarding teen dating violence. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States, with an estimated one out of four women victimized at some point in their lives. These actions are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to improve public safety across Illinois.
“Whether in her home or out in public, every woman has the right to be and feel safe,” Governor Quinn said. “These new laws will help us fight domestic violence across Illinois and make our state a safer place.”
House Bill 958, sponsored by State Representative Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet), increases the penalties for domestic violence by classifying domestic violence as a felony if the defendant has a prior domestic violence conviction. The felony classification is more severe if the defendant has more than one prior conviction, with a sentence of up to 14 years for four or more convictions. Currently many domestic violence cases are considered as misdemeanors. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
“Domestic violence impacts more than 100,000 people in Illinois each year,” Representative McAsey said. “We must continue working to provide protections from dangerous criminals. This new law forces repeat domestic abusers to be held accountable by increasing penalties for each violent act.”
“This law sends domestic abusers a strong message that the more often they do harm, the more time they’ll spend in jail,” Senator McGuire said.
In addition, House Bill 3379, sponsored by State Representative Silvana Tabares (D-Chicago) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), requires school boards to adopt a policy on teen dating violence. The policy must establish procedures for school employee response when they become aware of teen dating violence, and schools must educate students about dating violence. The law takes effect immediately.
Governor Quinn also today signed House Bill 3300, sponsored by State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora) and State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), which protects domestic violence victims who are covered by their abusers’ insurance policies. The law allows insurance companies to communicate with the victims in ways that do not divulge personal information or current addresses to their abusers. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Lastly, Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 3236, which extends the reporting deadline for the Task Force to Eradicate Domestic Violence to April 1, 2014. The task force is developing a statewide prevention program aimed at adolescent violence. The law takes effect immediately.