The State of Illinois is about to crack down more on domestic violence.Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a law that stiffens penalties for the crime.Marilena Frier serves as a program director with Quanada.She said the organization worked with about 560 victims and their children in West Central Illinois last year.
"I think a lot more people are beginning to understand, especially the victim, that it's not her fault," she said. "So people are coming to our services and seeing that there are other options. They don't have to stay in a domestic violent relationship."
A new Illinois law classifies domestic violence as a felony if the defendant has a prior domestic violence conviction.That classification is more severe if the defendant has more than one prior conviction.
"I'm really glad to see that we are getting a little bit of meat in this legislation," Frier said. "In the past, a lot of times when the individual would be convicted with a Class A misdemeanor, it was just basically a slap on the wrist for what he did. Now, he is held more accountable for his behavior."
"I think it's a good thing," Elder Service Officer Tom Liesen with the Quincy Police Department said. "We need to crack down more on domestic violence abusers. We need to protect the victims, which are almost always women. Hopefully, the more we crack down on it, the more it's going to curb that violence and stop it."
Liesen has worked in law enforcement for 15 years.
"To me, anytime someone in a relationship batters the other one, to me that's almost unforgivable," he said. "I don't have any sympathy for someone who does that."
Governor Quinn also signed new legislation that allows insurance companies to communicate with the victims in ways that do not divulge personal information or current addresses to their abusers.The new laws take effect January 1.
Illinois now requires school boards to adopt a policy on teen dating violence.The policy must establish procedures for school employees when they learn about the violence.The hotline to report domestic violence is 1-877-863-6338.