Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham has introduced legislation, called Racheal’s Law, which would encourage states to pass laws to provide for a permanent restraining order against sex offenders.
The bill, named after an Albuquerque constituent who brought the issue to the attention of the Congresswoman, is meant to protect victims of sex offenses and prevent them from being re-traumatized after the offender is released from prison. A similar bill was introduced during this year’s legislative session in New Mexico, but failed to pass.
“My federal legislation will put the issue on the radar for every state legislature because there are victims like Racheal in every state,” Rep. Lujan Grisham. “Victims should not be expected to keep track of their offenders and forced to re-file restraining orders when they are released from prison. Those orders should be in place, and they should be permanent.”
Rep. Lujan Grisham’s bill would:
- Encourage states to ensure that victims of rape or sexual assault can file and obtain a restraining order against the guilty party for an indefinite period of time without the necessity of renewal or refiling.
- Encourages states to ensure that victims of rape or sexual assault can be represented by an attorney instead of being physically present during hearings involving their convicted attacker.
About 293,000 Americans are victims of sexual assault every year; and 82 percent of those assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger. Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to contemplate suicide.
“Victims of sexual assault need every opportunity to heal,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “The Justice System should put victims’ interests first and ensure they have protections against their offenders.”