AWAKE drafted, lobbied, and passed two bills in 2015 and both will have a far reaching impact on the safety and health of women who have survived dangerous assaults.
People convicted of aggravated prostitution (HIV positive offenders), until now, were required to be on the sex offender registry for life. A conviction for this crime, which predominately affects women, prevented offenders from receiving treatment for HIV, substance abuse, and domestic/sexual assault because they could not be admitted to any program where children are present (the majority of rehabilitative programs). This new law, which will take effect on July 1, 2015, allows people who have been convicted of aggravated prostitution to petition their sentencing court for removal from the sex offender registry if they can show that they were a victim of human trafficking, a sexual offense, or domestic violence.
The judge can then remove them from the registry. Anyone who is found guilty of this offense after July 1, 2015, may file a petition with the sentencing court requesting that they not be included on the registry due to their status as a victim. This is a victory that will help rehabilitate offenders, allow them to raise their children with dignity, and protect society from the spread of HIV.
This new law, which will take effect on July 1, 2015, makes prosecution of this deadly crime safer for survivors. Strangulation survivors are seven times more likely to die at the hands of their abuser/assailant and this crime is often difficult to prove. The new law will take pressure off of survivors during prosecution by allowing a prosecutor to show that a defendant had either the intent or the knowledge that his actions could result in her being strangled. The new law also does not require that there be any visible injury of strangulation in order to charge a defendant. Because strangulation often results in no signs of visible injury, this crime is both under prosecuted and extremely dangerous to a survivor, whose airway could collapse days after the assault. This law will strengthen protection for domestic and sexual assault survivors in Tennessee.
This bill, which would allow doctors who care for pregnant women to determine which patients are at risk for CMV and inform them about how to prevent this deadly virus that affects between 600-800 babies in Tennessee every year, was sent to summer study and will return in 2016.
Thank you to everyone who researched and lobbied this important legislation. Special thanks to our organizational supporters: