- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas law enforcement officers will be required to ask domestic violence victims a series of questions to determine their risk of being killed, and must provide the victims a card with information about assistance and their rights under new laws taking effect this week.

State lawmakers said Monday that the measures, which take effect on Wednesday after being approved by the Legislature earlier this year, are aimed at preventing domestic violence and helping victims.

“You can see a common thread through our legislation, and that is it attempts to find ways to empower victims to make better choices because they’re going to have better information and access to support systems,” said Rep. Charlotte Douglas, a Republican from Alma who sponsored the measures.

One of the laws requires officers to ask domestic violence victims a series of questions from a “lethality assessment form” to determine whether to refer them to a shelter or intervention program. The officers will also be required to provide victims with the card that includes information on their rights, available assistance and officers’ contact information. The new laws also include a requirement that schools include dating violence awareness in their health course curriculum.

The centerpiece of the package of measures is called “Laura’s Law,” named after three women affected by domestic violence. They include Laura Aceves, a Eureka Springs woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2011, and her mother, Laura Ponce, who has since become an advocate for domestic violence victims.

The new law is also named for Laura Webb, a domestic abuse victim who survived her husband running her over with his truck and leaving her for dead.

“I strongly see the education piece helping people and the victims’ rights,” Webb said.

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