Domestic Violence is an ongoing and growing problem in the United States, including Nevada.
State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto chaired the quarterly meeting of the Nevada Council for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (NCPDV) Aug. 1 at the Rapport Executive Leadership Retreat facility in Alamo. The public was invited to attend.
Masto said, “Domestic violence exists in every community in the state, and Nevada leads the nation, per capita, in the number of women who are murdered each year as a result of domestic violence.”
Some members of the present committee were victims of domestic violence themselves.
The purpose of NCPDV is to prevent and eliminate domestic violence by increasing awareness of the existing and unacceptability of domestic violence, making recommendations for any necessary legislation relating to domestic violence to the Office of the Attorney General, and providing support to programs for the prevention of domestic violence in the state.
Created in 1995 by then State Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa as an advisory committee, the state legislature in 2005 officially established the Council and placed it within the Office of the Attorney General, set forth its duties and composition of members.
The 24 volunteer members from all around Nevada, come from backgrounds of law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecution, victim services, healthcare, education, and domestic violence survivors. 16 members of the committee attended the meeting in Alamo.
The committee is required to hold at least one of their meetings each year in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, or Seventh Judicial Districts (rural Nevada), and this time came to Alamo. One of the committee members said she had attended a recent leadership training session at Rapport, and recommended the Attorney General hold the next meeting there.
NCPDV’s priorities include creating training plans in partnership with statewide professional associations or licensing boards, developing best practice procedures for professionals working with victims of domestic violence, exploring innovative approaches to Council membership to encourage diversification from underserved communities, and working to enhance education of children on issues relating to domestic violence, teen dating violence, healthy relationships, and conflict resolution.
Maxine Lantz, victim/witness services program director for White Pine, Lincoln and Eureka counties, plus the Duckwater and Ely Shoshone Indian Reservations, reported on her recent activities in her district.
Through the month of June 2013, there have been 77 reported cases of domestic violence in White Pine County, 22 in Lincoln County, and 11 in Eureka County.
Statistics show that the frequency of occurrence has been steadily increasing since 2002, when there was a total of 42, compared to 115 in the first six months of 2013. Lantz said because of being in a vast section of rural Nevada it is difficult to respond quickly, “in some cases there is over an hour travel time, one-way, to see the victims, and if in Alamo, almost three hours, one way.”
Vice-chair Brent Kandt asked if the implementation of the Nevada Statewide Victim Information and Notification Everyday system (VINE) has been beneficial to victims living in the communities of White Pine, Lincoln, and Eureka Counties. It is a toll-free, anonymous, and confidential notification system designed to let victims, or a victim’s family member, know when an offender is set to be released from prison, and/or custody status.
Lantz said it is working pretty well in the rural areas, as did Capt. Gary Davis of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.
A problem that was addressed by the committee was the lack of accountability on the batterers treatment program.
Meadow Valley Justice Court Judge Mike Cowley said there is not yet an effective method to measure if the batterer is attending and improving from their court-ordered treatment program.
He suggested somehow the treatment programs for people in rural areas might be done on a closed-circuit video conferencing site, where the batterer(s) would be able to have interaction with a counselor. “You can get some type of feedback, some accountability there. We’ve got no real accountability now when it comes to the batterers treatment program,” he said.
Kandt reported on the five legislative bills passed by the 2013 Nevada legislature including reviewing how domestic violence leads to fatalities in rural counties and to be able to access the criminal history of the suspect; a bill to sustain the statewide system of victim notification (VINE); and a third bill providing for early termination of lease agreements for victims of domestic violence when the offender is going to be released from custody or prison, and the victim fears for their continued safety and wants to get away.
Getting information out the people in the underserved communities of rural Nevada is a matter of importance, committee members said.
Brochures with information and contact phone numbers regarding state and national help for victims seeking the closest program and service provider have been produced for general public and may be obtained from the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence in Reno. www.nnadv.org, 1-800-230-1955
For Lincoln County, the main contact is Maxine Lantz in Ely at 1-800-372-7202; S.A.F.E. House in Henderson, 1-702-564-3227; or Safe Nest in Las Vegas, 1-800-486-7282.