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1/12/2017 Rep. Craven reintroduces trio of justice reform bills
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) reintroduced three justice reform bills last night.  The justice reform bills relate to batterers intervention programs, a division program for the Superior Court, and expanding the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act.

“The purpose of these justice reform bills is first and foremost to ensure the safety of our citizens in the most cost-effective ways possible without sacrificing any level of public protection,” said Representative Craven.  “It costs a significant amount of taxpayer dollars and the state budget to incarcerate people and if we can prevent batterers from reoffending or divert those with mental illness and addiction issues from serving prison time, it will make our communities safer and save our taxpayers’ money within the state budget.”

Representative Craven amended the bills late in the session last year, but, the session ended before there was enough time to have the bills considered.  He has submitted them early this session in hopes of early committee consideration and passage.

The first piece of legislation (2017-H 5065) amends the Domestic Violence Prevention Act by creating a batterer’s intervention program fund and adopting evidence-based probation and parole supervision systems.  The fund will be administered by the State Public Safety Grant Administration Office and will consist of monies appropriated for the purpose of providing access, expansion, and improvement to community-based batterer’s intervention programs.

The second piece of legislation (2017-H 5064) would allow the presiding justice of the Superior Court, with approval from the Supreme Court, to create a Superior Court diversion program.  The program would allow the court to administer rules in which defendants could participate in substance abuse screenings, community service, and counseling.  Upon completion of the diversion program, charges would be dismissed and the records of arrest would be expunged.  The act would also alter the pretrial services unit by requiring risk assessments and require additional risk screens for those with a high risk of reoffending or those with past crimes of domestic violence.

The last piece of legislation (2017-H 5063) heard in committee expands the type of direct expenses that crime victims can be reimbursed for and also increases the maximum emergency compensation award for burial costs and related relocation costs.  The expansion of direct expenses includes the obtainment of medical or counseling services, funeral services, and participating in criminal justice proceedings.  The legislation also raises the emergency compensation for burial expenses from $8,000 to $10,000 and it raises the emergency compensation for relocation costs from $2,500 to $5,000.

Cosponsors of all three pieces of legislation include Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), and Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903