TAR HEEL VIEW: Working together to curb scourge of domestic violence

Domestic violence is a scourge, no doubt. And it’s not a partisan issue. It has the potential to affect any family with deadly consequences.

So we were glad to see Gov. Roy Cooper sign into law three pieces of legislation that were presented to him by the Republican-led legislature, all designed to address domestic violence. WRAL reported on the signing last week.

Senate Bill 600 broadens the law to allow prosecutors to use previous convictions for domestic violence and stalking as evidence of premeditation. This allows prosecutors to pursue first-degree murder charges in cases where a domestic abuse victim is killed.

“Too often, domestic violence killers escape full justice because prosecutors struggle to convince juries that these offenders’ crimes meet the definition of first-degree murder under current law,” Cooper said during the signing. “We must keep working to ensure those who commit the crime of domestic violence face the justice they deserve.”

House Bill 343 allows domestic violence protective orders granted by a judge to take full effect even when under appeal, which keeps victims safer.

And House Bill 399, which blocks sharing and posting of private images online without consent, expands previous protections against so-called “revenge porn.”

Senate Bill 600 was titled “Britny’s Law” in memory of Britny Jordan Puryear, a 22-year-old who was shot and killed by her live-in boyfriend, Logan McLean, in their Fuquay-Varina home on Nov. 6, 2014, WRAL reported. McLean pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is now serving a 32-year prison sentence.

Puryear’s family pushed for the change, and several family members attended the signing ceremony.

Domestic violence is a serious, multi-faceted issue in which victims are often compelled to keep quiet until it’s too late. We have many tools at our disposal to fight it, including education, protective harbors for victims and social support. When those fail, the punishment should fit the crime.

These changes will help.

Despite the deep divisions that are prevalent among our government leaders, they can still come together to improve the law and the lives of our citizens. Let’s have more of this.

— The Winston-Salem Journal