Report includes review of 2022 homicides and recommendations to Legislature
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 2022, six of Vermont’s 26 homicides were related to domestic violence. Included in the Commission’s report are key recommendations, including making the probate process more responsive to the needs of survivors of domestic violence and calling on the Legislature to require regular and ongoing training about domestic violence for all judges and court staff.
“We cannot talk about public safety without also talking about domestic and intimate partner violence,” said Attorney General Clark. “Domestic violence is an epidemic happening behind closed doors. The work of the Commission provides us with an opportunity to make improvements to address domestic violence in our state. I want to thank the Commission for their work on this important matter, and members of the Legislature for considering the Commission’s recommendations.”
From 1994 to 2022, there were 403 homicides in Vermont, of which 45 percent, or 183, 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.
In addition to addressing the probate process and requiring domestic violence training for judges, the Commission asks the Legislature to increase the membership of the Commission to include a sheriff, a member of a reparative board, and three new victim service positions to reflect changes since the Commission was first created. The Commission has also asked the Legislature to instruct judges to orally inform defendants when court orders require firearm surrender to better enhance the likelihood of compliance. The recommendations also call on the Legislature to create two new victim service positions serving municipal police departments, modeled after the Victim Services Director position at the Vermont State Police (VSP). These positions would provide services to families in domestic violence cases that have not or will not result in criminal charges, such as cases in which there is a murder-suicide.
“All Vermonters deserve to live lives free from domestic violence,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission plays an essential role in understanding the devastating impacts of domestic violence in our state. This report and its recommendations provide us with the opportunity to make meaningful changes to our responses to ensure that Vermont is a safer state for victims and for our communities.”
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 yesterday, is available here.
CONTACT: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171