A special task force assigned by the Attorney General to examine Missouri’s domestic violence laws meets today in St. Louis.
Attorney General Chris Koster says it’s past time for Missouri to take a good, long look at its laws against domestic violence.
“Personally, I come out of the prosecutorial community. I was prosecuting attorney on the western border for ten years before I became attorney general,” Koster says. “It’s been 30 years since the framework for handling domestic violence matters in our state was really thoroughly analyzed.”
The legislature first moved to address domestic violence in 1980. State lawmakers have periodically address issues as they arose, but haven’t conducted a comprehensive review of the laws. Koster says the legislature has moved to amend the criminal codes, create civil orders of protection and expand services to victims. He says it’s time for a studied approach to the issue.
The first meeting of the task force begins at 9 o’clock at the Eric P. Newman Education Center, 320 S. Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, located behind Children’s Hospital. The task force meets in Columbia on the 20th and in Kansas City September 27th.
Koster has invited law enforcement, prosecutors, victims’ advocates and court officials to review current law and propose changes to improve the system. Lawmakers have been invited, too. But a quick review of the legislators participating today reveals all are Democrats, as is Koster.
“You know the media has picked up on this issue,” Koster tells the Missourinet, “and, frankly, until you guys started asking us these questions, we never even viewed it as a partisan issue.”
A news release issued by Attorney General Koster’s office states that the St. Louis panel of legislators includes Sen. Joan Bray and Robin Wright-Jones, both Democrats from St. Louis, as well as Rep. Tishaura Jones (D-St. Louis), Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), Rep. Margo McNeil (D-Florissant), Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis), Rep. Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart) and Rep. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur).
The legislature, at present, is controlled by Republicans. So, if Koster wants to change the laws, he’ll have to win Republican support.