One of the fundamental roles of government is to keep its citizens safe. In addition to combating crime, we must prepare for and respond to new threats. As a member of the Courts of Justice Committee, Jennifer has been on the front lines of a number of initiatives addressing public safety.
Curbing Gun Violence
Virginia’s gun rate death is higher than the national average. Virginia also has become one of the leading suppliers of guns used in crimes: In 2009, 2,557 crime guns used in the various states and Washington, DC were traced back to Virginia, and 80% of crime guns recovered in Virginia were originally purchased within Virginia. In the House, Jennifer has supported measures to curb gun violence such as
- Introducing legislation to close the gun show loophole by requiring criminal background checks at gunshows,
- Supporting legislation to require criminal background checks for all gun purchases;
- Supporting legislation prohibiting individuals who have had their parental rights terminated as a result of abuse from purchasing or possessing handguns, and
- Opposing legislation that repealed the one-gun-per month limitation on gun purchases.
Combating Domestic & Sexual Violence
It is estimated that one in every seven families has a domestic violence incident, and one in 14 has a physical abuse incident. Women are more often murdered by someone they know and love than a stranger. Many women need help breaking the cycle of violence, and children need even more help to escape abusers. Jennifer has focused on these issues as a member of Governor Tim Kaine’s Commission on Sexual Violence and Governor Bob McDonnell’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board. In the House, Jennifer has worked to combat domestic and sexual violence by
- Sponsoring legislation increasing penalties for certain stalking or domestic violence offenses,
- Co-sponsoring legislation eliminating requirements for victims of sexual violence to pay for the recovery of physical evidence or submit to a polygraph before commencing prosecution,
- Sponsoring legislation that extends protective orders to pets of victims of domestic violence
- Sponsoring legislation allowing circuit court’s that have issued permanent protective orders to modify, dissolve, or extend them and requiring the court to enter and transfer identifying information to the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) system,
- Co-sponsoring legislation incorporating instruction on dating violence and the characteristics of abusive relationships into school curriculum guidelines for family life education, and
- Supporting omnibus legislation amending the Sex offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry provisions to protect our children from convicted sex offenders.
Fighting Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. It is the second largest criminal enterprises in the world; only drug trafficking is larger. Within the United States, 100,000 children are trafficked each year. Richmond is an attractive place for traffickers to do business since interstates 64, 95 and 295 all intersect here. Jennifer's efforts to combat human trafficking include
- Sponsoring legislation to provide safe harbor laws for minors being charged with prostitution who in actuality are victims of the force, coercion and fraud of human trafficking,
- Co-sponsoring legislation that requires that any employer who operates a truck stop and fails to post a notice, in the same location where other employee notices required by state or federal law are posted, of the existence of a human trafficking hotline is subject to a civil penalty of $100,
- Co-sponsoring legislation that required the Department of Social service to develop a plan for the provision of services to victims of human trafficking, and
- Co-sponsoring legislation to designate January 11th as Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Virginia.
Keeping Virginia’s Citizens and Resources Safe
September 11th opened our eyes to the fact that we face threats not only abroad, but here at home. When the National Guard is deployed abroad, it falls even more to our first responders and local law enforcement to keep us safe from not only the traditional threats of crime, fire, and health emergencies, but bombs, biological, and chemical weapons. Jennifer supports efforts to ensure that our first responders have the tools they need to keep Virginians safe. She has also sponsored legislation to help state, local, and private entities prepare for and respond to disasters, such as measures to
- Provide “good Samaritan-type” civil immunity for private and charitable organizations providing resources and assistance, without compensation, during a governor- declared emergency or formal emergency management training exercise, and at the request of the State Department of Emergency Management or a local emergency management employee,
- Permit local governments to give personal property to another governmental entity in or outside of Virginia where the recipient has suffered a natural or manmade disaster, and
- Classify policemen, firefighters, sheriffs and their deputies, and other local government employees as state employees for purposes of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act while rendering aid outside of Virginia as a result of a state-approved request under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.