Late last night, the Senate approved the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), taking a step toward ensuring continued funding for criminal justice programs that advocate for battered women. Amnesty International reports reports that since VAWA originally passed in 1994, designating as federal crimes domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking:
Rates of domestic violence incidents have dropped by almost 50% and incidents of rape are down by 60%
Intimate partners committed fewer murders in each of the 3 years (1996, 1997, and 1998) than in any other year since 1976
Although the Senate excluded an amendment proposed by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Coryn (R-TX) to create a DNA database of federal detainees—including those not convicted of a crime—that issue remains on the table. The House and Senate will soon resolve their differences over the legislation in a joint conference. Read more Mother Jones coverage of VAWA, here, here, and here.