A Domestic Violence Taskforce Could Soon Exist In Illinois

Supermajority Education Fund

February 20, 2020

Illinois lawmakers have introduced a bill that would create a domestic violence task force to assess the “process, operation, and enforcement of current domestic violence laws across the State” and report its findings to the General Assembly and Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) by 2022. The bill was assigned to the Human Services Committee on Tuesday and has gained numerous co-sponsors since. The bill, if passed, would be effective immediately.  

The task force created by the bill would consist of a number of members representing law enforcement, judicial bodies, victims’ rights organization, and domestic violence victims themselves. Illinois Attorney General, Kwame Raoul (D) would provide administrative support to the task force and would be its chair. The group would review research, best practices, and effective interventions before making recommendations.         

The bill would also establish a framework for a specialized protective network for victims as well as treatment options for victims and offenders and would review whether there should be special consideration for bail conditions in domestic violence cases. 

According to 2014 Centers for Disease Control data, 37 percent of Illinois women and 25.7 percent of Illinois men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes. In the U.S., at least one-third of female homicide victims are killed by male intimate partners.

“This is really bigger than any one piece of legislation. There is domestic violence throughout the country, but Illinois is certainly no exception,” Illinois representative Joyce Mason (D), one of the lawmakers backing the bill who has spoken publicly about being a victim of domestic violence herself, Supermajority News. “We really need to figure out how we can address this as a whole and to fix where we’re falling short.”

A task force would help law enforcement agencies better handle cases of domestic violence by creating strategies for better communication between agencies. Without communication, Mason said, “It’s hard to see the pattern and the warning signs. We know that when we see an abuser escalating, there are patterns,” she said. “They will start out small, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger until something incredibly tragic happens, and law enforcement agencies are not able to communicate and share information that would solve the problem.”

Mason said there are also still issues with police considering intimate partner abuse to be a “family matter,” but a specialized protective network for victims could help address that by enabling communication between law enforcement and support networks and counselors. So, for example, if law enforcement knows a victim is in the hospital, there could be a process for them to communicate with those networks to provide information and assistance to the victim.

“There is a minimization of what domestic abuse and domestic violence can escalate to, and often does. A lot of times, they tend to look the other way. We know that men are the majority of abusers, and in law enforcement, a majority are men,” she added.