Domestic Violence Topic of Summit

By Pendleton, Randolph | The Florida Times Union, October 6, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Domestic Violence Topic of Summit


Pendleton, Randolph, The Florida Times Union


********** CORRECTION (10/9/96)

Because of an editing error, the cost of registration for

the Governor's Third Annual Summit on Domestic Violence at

the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville tomorrow

was misstated on Page B-1 Sunday. The cost is $40.

**********

When women serving prison terms for killing their husbands

started applying for clemency in 1991 on the grounds that they

were victims of battering and acted in self defense, it drew the

attention of Gov. Lawton Chiles' staff.

The result is the Governor's Task Force on Domestic and Sexual

Violence, which is co-sponsoring the Governor's third annual

Summit on Domestic Violence from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday

at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville.

The task force, created by Chiles in an executive order in

1993, was given the mission of studying the problem of domestic

violence, recommending responses to it and increasing public

awareness.

"We like to serve as a catalyst for others to act," said Robin

Hassler, executive director of the task force based in

Tallahassee.

Soon, the 35-member task force -- whose members include Circuit

Judge Karen Cole of Jacksonville and Ellen Siler, executive

director of Quigley House in Orange Park -- will be able to give

more than advice.

It has been designated as the conduit to funnel the state's

$5.3 million share of federal Violence Against Women Act money

to prosecutors, police, victims services advocates and others

involved in the fight against domestic abuse.

Offices such as the special assault unit in the State

Attorney's Office, which handles domestic violence prosecutions

in Jacksonville, and the victim advocate unit in the State

Attorney's Office, which provides services to abuse victims, are

likely candidates for some money.

The task force also has been involved in training professionals

such as police officers and health care workers in how to

recognize and deal with victims of domestic violence.

It has pushed through legislation requiring nurses and

psychologists to have an hour of instruction on domestic

violence, streamlining the injunction process and requiring the

domestic violence injunctions.

In all, the group made 225 recommendations in various stages of

implementation.

But its biggest accomplishment might be in the field of

increasing public awareness.

"They've been a tremendous help to us in terms of exposing the

reality of domestic violence and the impact it has," said Rita

De Young, chief executive officer of Hubbard House, a shelter

for battered women in Jacksonville.

Libby Senterfitt, who heads the special assault unit in the

State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville, said the task force is

an important resource.

"They are an informationgathering source, and they share that

with us what has been done around the state," Senterfitt said.

The Jacksonville summit -- part of the YWCA's Week Without

Violence -- will bring together representatives of the justice

system, health care professionals, social service agencies,

policy makers and members of the public for discussions of

domestic violence and, in particular, what to do about those who

batter their spouses.

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