Report includes review of 2021 homicides and recommendations to Legislature
From the Cedar Creek Room of the Vermont State House, Attorney General Charity Clark today announced the release of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission’s annual report, including statistics, trends, and recommendations. The Commission, housed within the Attorney General’s Office, found that in 2021, five of Vermont’s twelve homicides were related to domestic violence. Included in the Commission’s report are key recommendations for addressing the ongoing issues of domestic and intimate partner violence in Vermont, including calling on the Legislature to amend Vermont’s laws to increase transparency about officer misconduct involving domestic and sexual violence and allow for disciplinary action in instances involving Relief From Abuse Orders. The recommendations also include amending the law to allow prosecutorial discretion in instances of the most serious intimate partner violence cases committed by youth.
“Nearly half of all homicides in Vermont are related to domestic violence,” said Attorney General Clark. “As a state, we need to do all that we can to promote public safety while also shining a light on the issues of domestic and intimate partner violence. I want to thank members of the Legislature, including Senator Hardy and Representative McCarthy, for taking steps to move forward on the Commission’s recommendations.”
From 1994 to 2021, there were 377 homicides in Vermont, of which, 47 percent, or 177, were determined to be related to domestic violence.
The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission was created by statute in 2002 to collect data and conduct in-depth reviews of domestic violence-related fatalities to better understand how the fatalities occurred and what can be done to prevent them. The Commission includes 17 members representing a broad range of stakeholders, including law enforcement, health care providers, state agencies, advocates, and the judiciary.
“As Chair of the Senate Government Operations Committee, I look forward to working with our new Attorney General, my legislative colleagues, the Vermont Criminal Justice Council, and advocates and survivors to act on the recommendations in the Commission’s report and ensure that stronger training, data reporting, and accountability laws, policies, and procedures are implemented and followed to curb the tragedy of domestic violence in Vermont,” said Senator Ruth Hardy, Addison District.
“I am looking forward to taking up the recommendations of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission Report in the House Government Operations & Military Affairs committee this year,” said Committee Chair, Representative Mike McCarthy, Franklin-3 District. “With our work to improve public safety in Vermont I am committed to working with Attorney General Clark, law enforcement agencies, Commissioner Morrison, stakeholders like the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and survivors. My hope is that the legislature can help prevent domestic violence fatalities through our work acting on these recommendations and on related issues like firearm safety.”
“Domestic violence continues to devastate Vermont families and communities, as we can see from the report issued by the Vermont Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “The fact is roughly half of all homicides in Vermont are related to domestic violence. At the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, we believe we can take positive actions toward bringing that number down by working together to implement the recommendations offered by the Fatality Review Commission. We appreciate Attorney General Clark’s commitment to such a collaboration and to Vermonters impacted by domestic violence.”
There are many resources available for people experiencing domestic violence, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline: you can use their safety planning tip sheet or call 800-799-SAFE (7233). Additionally, the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has a statewide hotline for domestic violence that can be reached at 800-228-7395. The Network’s fifteen member programs provide services to survivors in all fourteen counties in Vermont. For an interactive map to help you locate a local program near you, visit https://vtnetwork.org/get-help/.
A copy of the Commission’s report, released last week, is available here.
Contact: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171