Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.: A bill pre-filed in the state House of Representatives would be a good first step in treating domestic violence like the dangerous crime that it is.
The bill would increase the maximum penalty for first-offense criminal domestic violence from 30 days to 180 days. This is an absolute necessity.
The increase would bring the penalty for domestic violence in line with crimes such as failing to pay a telephone bill or defrauding a hotel. The fact that penny-ante crimes such as these carry higher penalties than domestic violence shows that the state doesn’t take this problem as seriously as it should.
Light penalties send a message to those who would batter their spouses and partners. It tells them this isn’t much of a crime. It tells them they can continue their abuse and at most face a slap on the wrist. Increasing the penalty would correct this message.
The bill also would require those convicted of criminal domestic violence to participate in a domestic violence intervention program, getting them the counseling and help they need to stop their cycles of violence.