by Max Brantley
"The state of Arkansas and the system failed victims like Laura and it continues to fail too many women and children," Ross said. "Domestic violence is a real problem in Arkansas."
In the last decade, Arkansas has frequently been ranked as one of the 10 worst states when it comes to men killing women, according to annual reports by the Violence Policy Center. The ranking is based on FBI data on incidents in which a sole male offender kills a single female victim, a typical indicator of domestic homicide.
Under Ross's plan, the state would take new steps to protect and support domestic violence victims.
One key initiative would change the way police respond to domestic violence calls. Under Ross's plan, Arkansas police would be trained to screen victims for risk level by asking a series of research-based questions. If the victim is determined to be at high risk, police would inform her about the danger she is in, encourage her to seek help and connect her with key resources.
The method, called "lethality assessment," has shown encouraging progress in reducing homicides across the country.
"Thirty-two states have now implemented some form of lethality assessment," said Ross. "It’s past time for Arkansas to do the same."
Ross' plan also includes the creation of a confidential address program to help survivors of sexual assault, rape, stalking or domestic violence keep their location secret from abusers; changing the law so it's easier for domestic violence survivors to terminate a housing lease without penalty; and directing the state to publish a comprehensive report on domestic violence every two years.