As domestic violence cases jump, state lawmakers search for solutions
Divya Misra finally had enough. After years of abuse, she filed for a protective order against her husband. But just one day before Norwalk police could serve it, police say he killed her – then took his own life.
That was two years ago.
“Our father probably felt the walls were closing in around him,” said Misra’s son, Akshat.
On Thursday, Misra’s two sons called on Connecticut lawmakers to do more to protect domestic violence victims.
“It's not their fault. It's very difficult to leave,” said Misra’s other son, Bharat. “And I think that's why legislation like this is so important.”
In Connecticut, more than 300 people were killed by their partners over the past two decades. To address a recent spike, legislators have filed more than a dozen bills this session to expand GPS monitoring, take away abusers' alimony payments and cancel "coerced debt" incurred in a victim's name.
Lawmakers are also addressing the death of Julie Minogue. The Milford mother was killed with an ax after prosecutors say police failed to re-submit an arrest warrant for her ex-boyfriend. Minogue’s family recently sued the city and the Milford Police Department.
One bill would create a new Domestic Violence Criminal Justice Response and Enhancement Advisory Council to address law enforcement gaps.
“What are ways to streamline the process of getting protective orders and to make sure that those are executed upon very quickly?” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. “A sort of ‘one-stop shop’ program like New York has, where you have social workers, court personnel and law enforcement.”
If convicted, Minogue’s ex-boyfriend could spend the rest of his life in prison. One bill would make domestic abusers convicted of murder ineligible for release.
LAMONT TAKES AIM AT GUNS
Meantime, Gov. Ned Lamont wants to ban gun sales to domestic abusers and impose a new 10-day waiting period. Gun rights groups believe it's unnecessary.
“You're going to have a permit. That takes several months to get, first of all,” said Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. “And your background check process.”
But Misra's husband didn't have to wait. He already had a permit.
“He purchased a gun the same month that my mom told him that she wanted a divorce,” said Akshat Misra. “I think a short waiting period would, at least, have forced him to think a little bit more.”
Misra chose the Norwalk Public Library to call for action. His mother worked there for 17 years. In front of the building, a memorial garden now bears her name.
“This is actually a place that my mother liked to spend a lot of time,” he said.