WHEREAS, sexual and domestic violence afflicts thousands of victims in Massachusetts;
WHEREAS, according to the National Institute of Justice, approximately 1.5 million women and 834,000 men are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year;
WHEREAS, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety, in 2006, half of all sexual assault victims who sought medical attention were under the age of 20, a third were under the age of 18, and 7% were under the age of 13;
WHEREAS, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety, in 2006, there were 24 domestic violence-related homicides in Massachusetts;
WHEREAS, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in 2005, 2,691 unduplicated incidents of sexual assault were reported to rape crisis centers and Llámanos y hablemos, the statewide Spanish language helpline;
WHEREAS, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in 2005, 35,887 children in Massachusetts were found to be victims of maltreatment and 975 of those children were victims of sexual abuse;
WHEREAS, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, approximately 43,000 children in Massachusetts are exposed to domestic violence annually, and an even greater number of cases go unreported;
WHEREAS, residents of this Commonwealth must be free from fear of sexual and domestic violence, and must know that all agencies of government are committed to devising new, innovative strategies to address sexual and domestic violence; providing the necessary services and legal protections to enable survivors to achieve health and safety; and ensuring that perpetrators are held fully accountable for their actions;
WHEREAS, previous administrations have regularly used advisory groups and commissions to develop useful and well-considered recommendations to reduce the frequency and severity of sexual and domestic assault, and to coordinate efforts to confront sexual and domestic violence among public safety, health, human services, and educational officials, as well as the legal, religious and business communities; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative that any future multi-agency, multi-disciplinary working group focus on devising concrete proposals that will help to eliminate sexual and domestic violence from this Commonwealth;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, do hereby revoke Executive Order 450 and order as follows:
Section 1. There is hereby established the Governor's Council to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence. The Council shall make recommendations on all issues related to sexual and domestic violence in the Commonwealth.
Section 2. As its first order of business, the Council shall complete the following assignments by March 31, 2008:
a. Devise a guide for Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to consult when responding to a report of an adult sexual assault;
b. Revise and update the Massachusetts Policy for Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence, pursuant to Chapter 403 of the Acts of 1990. This policy was last updated in 2002.
Section 3. In addition to its specific assignments, the Council shall:
a. consider the need for further legislation to protect victims, punish and treat perpetrators, and reduce and prevent the incidence of sexual and domestic violence;
b. evaluate, on a continuing basis, the response of the law enforcement, judicial, and health and human service systems to the needs of sexual and domestic violence victims;
c. consider further policy initiatives to assure the effective, uniform, and collaborative response by law enforcement, judicial, health and human service agencies, including but not limited to the enhancement of interagency communication and cooperation, as well as the timely and accurate sharing of information between law enforcement, judicial personnel, the private bar, and other victim service providers;
d. consider measures to prevent and reduce the incidence of sexual and domestic violence through public education and awareness of sexual and domestic violence as criminal acts;
e. consider measures which will better enable victims of domestic violence (and sexual violence when applicable) to transition from violent relationships to violence-free lives, including providing victims with necessary protection shelter, advocacy, counseling, and other identified services;
f. locate and apply current research and evaluation information to program initiatives and policy development and identify and suggest solutions to address gaps in current knowledge of sexual and domestic violence;
g. consider other measures to address sexual and domestic violence, and child sexual abuse, as the Council deems appropriate; and
h. develop and submit to the Governor an annual report of the Council's findings and recommendations.
Section 4. The Lieutenant Governor or his designee shall Chair the Council. The Council shall be located within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The Council shall consist of up to 30 members which the Governor shall, from time to time, appoint. Council members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and without compensation.
Section 5. The administrative operations of the Council shall vest with an Executive Director, who shall be appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Governor. With the approval of the Chair, the Executive Director may create committees to carry out the Council's responsibilities.
Section 6. The Council shall meet at such times and at such intervals as the Chair or his designee shall direct.
Section 7. This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded, or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.
Given at the Executive Chambers in Boston this 6th day of June in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven and of the independence of the United States, two hundred and thirty-one.
DEVAL L. PATRICK
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
WILLIAM FRANCIS GALVIN
Secretary of the Commonwealth