Governor McKee Launches Working Group to Identify Gaps, Improve Response to Domestic Violence

Published on Wednesday, April 13, 2022

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee was joined by Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Paul Suttell, state agencies and stakeholders in law enforcement, the judiciary, and advocates to launch the Governor’s Domestic Violence Working Group.

“It will take collaboration from multiple agencies and leaders in state and local government, law enforcement, and survivor support to make the type of progress we need to make in reducing domestic violence,” said Governor McKee. “That is why I am so grateful to see this working group come together to address this issue. The men and women in Rhode Island are relying on us to help. I am confident that this working group can identify and address the gaps in domestic violence response so that we can all build a safer Rhode Island for everyone.”

The announcement was followed by a roundtable discussion amongst stakeholders on challenges and goals in reducing the prevalence of domestic violence in Rhode Island. Despite an overall drop in crime, domestic violence remains a pervasive public safety issue in Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men reported having experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes.

“Data shows that incidents of domestic violence have increased locally and around the globe since the start of the pandemic,” said Lt. Governor Matos. “I am optimistic that this passionate group of stakeholders will help us identify solutions to reverse these trends and establish new best practices that will keep our communities safe.”

“This is a very important issue, and I commend Governor McKee for spearheading this initiative,” said Patricia Coyne-Fague, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. “In Corrections we see firsthand the ripple effect domestic violence has in our communities; this is an issue that concerns us all. I am looking forward to the work ahead.”

“Every day members of law enforcement face the challenges inherent with domestic violence,” said Lt. Colonel Darnell Weaver of the Rhode Island State Police. “We look forward to continuing this important work through the Domestic Violence Working Group alongside our partners in domestic violence advocacy, law enforcement, and government to ensure that all Rhode Islanders feel safe at home.”

The working group was designed in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC), in partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, to comprehensively assess domestic violence responses in Rhode Island. It is based on an approach by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Reducing Violent Crime by Improving Justice System Performance, a bipartisan effort designed to improve domestic violence responses in Rhode Island. This Justice Reinvestment Initiative involves using data to identify systemic gaps in the state’s response to domestic violence, implement evidence-based practices to address those gaps, and measure outcomes.

Governor McKee’s FY2023 budget proposal includes $4.5 million dedicated to support survivors of domestic violence. These funds will be allocated to invest in the nonprofit community to provide additional housing, clinical and mental health services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. This includes increased investments for therapy and counseling, housing assistance, job training, relocation aid and case management — all proven, necessary tools for survivors.

The working group, established through Executive Order 22-25, will meet approximately every month and consist of data presentations on various aspects of the justice system and discussion of potential policy and programmatic improvements for the state.