Shaheen Joins Bipartisan Group of Senators to Reintroduce Bill to Combat Domestic Violence
**POWER Act would promote pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault**March 24, 2017
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators to reintroduce the Pro bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER) Act, to help combat domestic abuse and sexual violence. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Steve Daines (R-MT) also co-sponsored the bill. The POWER Act directs that each year, the United States Attorney in each judicial district across the country hold at least one event, in partnership with domestic violence service providers or volunteer lawyer projects, to promote pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Each office is also asked to submit a report to the Attorney General detailing the occurrence of the event to the Department of Justice which will then compile the nation-wide reports into a single report to be submitted to Congress annually.
“Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault face so many obstacles – access to legal protection and representation shouldn’t be one of them,” said Senator Shaheen. “Pro bono assistance from the legal community is an important tool for many survivors to escape the cycle of violence. The POWER Act will expand this legal assistance to more communities and encourage lawyers across the country to get involved. Domestic violence is an epidemic in our country and we must provide survivors the necessary tools, including pro bono legal help, to break the cycle.”
Providing legal services after the first experience of domestic violence can be a proactive solution to stopping continued domestic violence. Legal representation increases the possibility of successfully obtaining a protective order against an attacker from 32 percent without an attorney to 83 percent with an attorney. Approximately one-in-four women will suffer some form of domestic violence during their lifetime. According to a national survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in one day over 12,000 requests for services, including legal representation, for domestic violence survivors were unmet.
Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and other House members are expected to introduce companion legislation next week in the House.
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