State Sen. Jonathan Nichols and Sen. Kenneth Corn have authored language to increase funding to help combat child abuse and domestic violence in Oklahoma. The language was included in House Bill 1282 which was approved by the Senate on Thursday.
The measure calls for a $3 fee on both civil and criminal court cases, with those funds designed for domestic violence and sexual assault programs and initiatives administered by the State Attorney General’s office. The bill also adds a $3 fee on all criminal court filings to benefit the Child Abuse Monetary Fund which provides resources for Oklahoma’s multi-disciplinary child advocacy centers.
“Last year alone we had more than 13,000 confirmed cases of child abuse in Oklahoma, and 42 children who died from child abuse,” said Nichols, R-Norman. “These centers and interdisciplinary teams are helping us do a better job of investigating child abuse, getting the cases to court, and getting longer sentences for abusers compared to cases not investigated by multi-disciplinary teams.”
Corn said there was a 32 percent increase between 1994 and 2004 in reported cases of domestic violence while funding remained the same.
“Right now, Oklahoma ranks seventh in the nation in the number of women murdered by men,” said Corn, D-Poteau. “The state’s sexual assault rate is 38 percent higher than the rest of the nation. Obviously we need to do more to protect women and children from these types of crimes. This additional funding will be a tremendous help.”
The legislation now goes to the governor for his consideration.