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HomeAt Home & BeyondGabby Petito Act Would Boost Domestic Violence Prevention

Gabby Petito Act Would Boost Domestic Violence Prevention

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A proposed bill would require that law enforcement agencies conduct a lethality assessment on survivors of domestic violence in order to boost domestic violence protection programs around the state. The measure is named for Gabby Petito, who was murdered in 2021 by her boyfriend while on a cross-country van trip. Petito’s family are residents of Vero Beach.

Filed into the Florida Senate by State Democratic Leader Sen. Lauren Brook ( D-Plantation), SB 610, the Gabby Petito Act will require that investigators from law enforcement agencies throughout the state conduct an 11-item “lethality” assessment of domestic survivors’ risk factors for homicide by their intimate partners, and to connect them with support services including those provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families and at least one other domestic violence advocacy organization.

According to the National Institute for Justice (NIJ), lethality assessments are evidence-based tools that are approved by the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women to evaluate a domestic violence victim’s potential for serious injury or death and to promote early detection of risk factors.

The proposed legislation also requires that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) collaborate with the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, and domestic violence advocacy organizations to develop policies, procedures, and training programs to implement lethality assessments effectively.

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According to the FDLE, there were 106,615 incidents of domestic violence offenses reported to law enforcement in Florida in 2020.

Also, in 2020, there were 198 domestic violence homicides and 19 domestic violence manslaughter offenses reported to law enforcement.

If passed and signed into law, SB 610 would become effective on July 1, 2024.

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