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May 01, 2015

Domestic Violence

ABA President William C. Hubbard expressed ABA support this month for legislation pending in the Maine Legislature that would provide critical protection for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Protection under the legislation, LD 861, includes “prompt access to the criminal and civil justice system” and options such as “no-penalty early lease termination, lease bifurcation, eviction defense, lock changes; and…prohibiting retaliation, discrimination or penalties in housing due to perpetrator behavior and status as a victim.” Hubbard, in a May 12 letter transmitting comments for a hearing before the legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary, emphasized the ABA’s support for expanding housing protections for victims of domestic and sexual abuse and stalking. “Without access to viable, long-term housing, survivors must choose between homelessness and returning to violent and abusive situations,” the comments stated. While the recent reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act expanded housing protections for victims in almost all federally subsidized housing, those who do not live in such housing are not protected under the statute. Maine has taken important steps toward ensuring the safety of victims of domestic violence, and the legislation would provide for further security for these victims, the comments stated.

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