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Our Opinion: Senators move to modernize domestic violence laws

Missouri senators deserve to be commended for unanimous passage of a practical, updated domestic violence law.

The 33-0 vote exemplifies the governing process at its best.

The legislation reflected recommendations from a task force that included state lawmakers, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, professionals who deal with domestic and sexual violence, and victims of domestic violence.

The group, assembled by Attorney General Chris Koster, held public forums and meetings throughout the state before crafting its 32-page report and 12 recommendations.

In a February editorial in this forum, those recommendations were characterized as “very pragmatic” by Colleen Coble, a task force member and executive officer of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The legislation, which now advances to the House, also fits that description. Consider:

• The proposal represents the first comprehensive update of domestic violence laws since the 1970s. In view of the strides made in the past four decades in crime reporting, prevention, protection, prosecution and more, the existing laws are comparatively medieval.

• In addition to being outdated, existing statues are incompatible. The new legislation standardizes multiple, and sometimes conflicting, definitions.

• The new law gives judges additional authority to extend and customize orders of protection.

• Provisions target the escalating problem of dating violence involving teens.

Domestic violence is a despicable crime, using weapons of fear, intimidation and injury to attack the body, mind and soul of its victims.

We as a society must strive to eradicate it through prevention, protection and punishment.

Missouri senators distinguished themselves by advancing this sensible, modern approach to domestic violence.

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