Domestic violence tag bill pushed in Kansas


Domestic violence tag bill pushed

Hays to provide certified nurses for victims of sexual violence




Created January 17, 2010 at 6:15pm

Updated January 18, 2010 at 2:20am

After having made revisions to a domestic violence tag bill, state Rep. Pat Colloton recently said she believes the bill has a "good shot" at being passed during the upcoming legislative session.

The bill is the first comprehensive domestic violence legislation proposed in Kansas, and if adopted, would require a domestic violence tag be placed on legal documents relative to a domestic violence crime. The tag is especially important, as offenders often repeat their crimes.

"I think it has a good prospect of passage because it's been given the fine-toothed comb by the criminal division of the Kansas Judicial Council," Colloton said. "It's been reviewed by the Governor's Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board."

The bill has been heavily supported by Jana's Campaign, started by Curt and Christie Brungardt, of Hays, whose daughter was slain in 2008 by her ex-boyfriend in Lawrence.

The Brungardts introduced the tag bill to the Kansas House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice on Jan. 12. The bill will get a full hearing Feb. 1.

If passed, the bill will add to every crime the possibility of finding domestic violence, Colloton said. If domestic violence is found, it allows the court to order treatment and flag that person as an offender. It isn't necessarily a conviction of domestic battery.

"Oftentimes a crime will be committed, say arson, and the underlying cause is domestic violence, but the charge is arson," said Bob Stephan, chairman of the Governor's Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. "A tag would show domestic violence was involved. So it's not taken as a crime, but domestic violence was an element."

Stephan said the board adopted the idea for a domestic violence tag bill about three years ago from Colorado. However, it has been halted by obstacles. Last year, it was taken on by the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee of the House, which Colloton chairs.

After a failed attempt for passage during last year's legislative session, Colloton referred the tag bill to the Kansas Judicial Council, from which the committee was able to take recommendations and write the current bill.

Initially, there were concerns the bill wasn't constitutional if the tag was placed before a person was charged. The current bill places the tag at the end of the charge, upon finding there has been domestic violence, Colloton said. The bill also will provide a better way to track domestic violence statistics based on arrest records submitted to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Under Jana's Campaign, the Brungardts also have prompted the investigation into accessibility of sexual response care in rural areas.

In years past, Hays Medical Center offered its own certified nurses for sexual response care, but maintaining skills became a problem, so it collaborated with Salina, said Jodi Schmidt, spokeswoman for Hays Medical Center.

It is suggested that certified nurses have 10 to 12 cases a year to maintain their skills, in addition to dealing with the legal aspect of sexual violence cases.

Due to recent discussion in the Hays community, the medical center has once again decided to provide its own set of certified nurses, as well as set aside an area specifically for medical needs related to sexual violence. The medical center will require maintenance training of some of its nurses who already have sexual response experience by periodically sending them to Salina to work on a simulator.

"For Hays Medical Center, this will allow us to have nurse examiners available right on site 24/7 for the community and the broader areas we serve," Schmidt said. "It allows victims of sexual assault to feel more comfortable."

Adrielle Harvey can be reached at (785) 295-1285 or adrielle.harvey@cjonline.com.