Local, State, and Federal Responses to Stalking: Are Anti-Stalking Laws Effective?
60 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2016 Last revised: 19 Oct 2016
Date Written: 2016
Statistics show that there are currently 7.5 million victims of stalking in the United States each year. The year 2014 commemorated the 20th Anniversary since passage of the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (“VAWA”) that was signed by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. Passage of this Act marked a key transformation in our nation’s response to the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The VAWA was established to promote “collaboration among law enforcement, health care providers, nonprofit service groups, community leaders, and the private sector” to combat these crimes. In fact, the VAWA was created as a “coordinated community response” to respond to the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. In addition, this Act provided significant “federal resources for police, prosecutors, prevention programs, and victim service initiatives” in these cases.
This Article highlights the serious problem of stalking and addresses whether after 20 years since the original passage of the federal VAWA in 1994, anti-stalking laws are effective at the local, state, and federal levels. Part II begins with a discussion of the VAWA. Part III includes statistics related to the incidences of stalking and its relationship to domestic violence as well as summarizes and provides a comprehensive analysis of state and federal anti-stalking laws in effect in 2014. Part III also contains an overview of the Model Anti-Stalking Code. Part IV discusses the various constitutional challenges that have been made in response to anti-stalking legislation and explains why such laws have and should be upheld. Part V evaluates the effectiveness of anti-stalking efforts at the local, state, and federal levels, discusses whether anti-stalking laws are effectively combating stalking, and emphasizes “model” anti-stalking laws that are being successfully utilized at the state level. Part VI concludes that anti-stalking laws are effective on their face, but provides recommendations regarding interventions, prevention efforts, and law enforcement practices to better protect victims of stalking. It also recommends that in order to make anti-stalking laws the most effective, there should be better identification of stalking offenses; increases in arrests, prosecutions, convictions, and sanctions imposed upon stalkers to exhibit the fact that stalkers will be held accountable for their conduct; and mandated professional counseling for stalkers.
Keywords: Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (“VAWA”), Anti-Stalking Laws
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