What is House Bill H.R. 2120?
This bill would enhance protections for victims of sex offenses by allowing those victims to seek a permanent restraining order against their attacker. It would essentially make permanent protections the default option for judges rather than issuing protection orders which are only in effect for a certain period.
States would be encouraged into adopting these laws by making 10 percent of their federal criminal justice funding contingent on having policies in place that:
In order for these protections to be lifted, the offender would have to ask for its removal, a change from the prevailing situation which typically leads to the victim having to ask for a protection order to be continued.
If states don’t comply with these requirements, federal funding that is withheld would be reallocated to states that have adopted such policies. The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) would have the option of granting a state one additional year to fully implement those policies if they are making a good faith effort to do so.
Authorize judges and courts to issue orders prohibiting alleged sex offenders from having any contact with the victim, or the victim’s friends, co-workers, or relatives;
Permit judges and courts to order a continuation of that protection after the sex offender has been found guilty as a condition of granting bail, parole, probation, or other supervised release;
Provide judges and courts with the authority to grant or extend a protection order that would remain in effect until the court orders otherwise.
Victims of sex offenses, their relatives, co-workers, and friends; alleged and convicted sex offenders; judges and courts; and the Dept. of Justice.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 2120
A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.
In-Depth: While delivering his introductory remarks on the House floor, this bill’s lead sponsor Rep. Chris Smith
(R-NJ) underscored the need to ensure that victims have faith in the
criminal justice system:
“The more support and confidence victims have
in the ability of our justice system to hold those who commit sex crimes
accountable, the more likely victims will come forward — which will
help ensure that more criminals are properly prosecuted, leading to
fewer victims in the future… We should do all we can to encourage
victims to come forward and ensure those victims who do; are afforded
permanent protection. My legislation will help with this effort, and I
urge all members to support it.”
This bill is based on a law adopted in New Jersey after Nicole Norberto was raped by an acquaintance, and was informed that under current law she couldn’t request a permanent restraining order
against her attacker because she was not in a “dating relationship”
with the offender. New Jersey then corrected that loophole in the law
with what became known as Nicole’s Law.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user @lattefarsan)