Governor Wants Major Change to Domestic Violence Services

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Governor Nikki Haley announced her plans to consolidate three existing domestic violence crime victim services into one office under the attorney general. 

Haley signed an executive order Thursday to begin the transition process, but lawmakers would need to pass a bill next session to finalize the transition.

Under the current system, domestic violence services like victim compensation, assistance grants, training and research are all under three separate offices at the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety.

Haley wants to centralize those functions under the Attorney General, as the state works with stakeholders to close gaps that lead to South Carolina's high rank in intimate partner deaths each  year. 

'This is just another step to show, we're not stopping, we're going to keep going until we feel like we're doing everything we can for every family we can," Haley said. 

AG Alan Wilson said this change wouldn't affect current services that agencies like the State Office of Victim Assistance and the Crime Victim Ombudsman provide. 

"What Its not going to interfere with the integrity of each of those agencies that provides its current services," he said. "Our job is to make it a one stop shop so everyone knows where to go."

Haley and Lawmakers in attendance called this a bipartisan effort. Rep. James Smith said it won't be hard to find sponsors and get the bill to the finish line. 

"I think you'll see broad bipartisan support for the bill, and it shouldn't have much problems in terms of passage but we'll continue to work," Smith said.

By combining these services under one office, advocates say it will help to better identify gaps in the system and find better supports for domestic violence survivors.

"This also makes victim service providers and victims a higher priority because they're going to get more attention than they've ever gotten before once this is enacted," Wilson said.

If this change were to be made, it would be the most significant reform since the Victim's Bill of rights was added to the state constitution in 1998.

 


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