- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says her office will distribute information cards to abuse victims and help develop courses for students on dating violence, as she ramps up a focus on domestic violence in the coming months.

Rutledge said her office is working on helping enforce two new measures enacted by the Legislature to curb abuse in Arkansas.

“One victim of domestic violence or sexual assault is too many, as far as I’m concerned,” Rutledge told The Associated Press in an interview last week.

Rutledge said her office will print and distribute cards that law enforcement officers are required to provide domestic violence victims under a law enacted earlier this year. The card, which includes information on their rights, available assistance and officers’ contact information, is currently provided online to law enforcement through the Criminal Justice Institute.

Distributing the cards more widely, Rutledge said, will “make sure victims are aware they are not alone and that there are people out there to help them.”

A spokesman for Rutledge’s office said he didn’t have estimates on how many cards would be distributed, or how much it would cost the state to print them out.

The cards were the centerpiece of “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.

Another part of the law that Rutledge said she’ll help enforce is the requirement that schools include dating violence awareness instruction in their health curricula for grades 7 through 12. Rutledge said her office work on setting up “train the trainer” programs that will help school officials prepare their educators for the new requirements.

Rutledge spokesman Judd Deere said Rutledge’s office is exploring contracting with an organization to help set up the training programs for school districts.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen too often where dating violence leads to domestic violence, and the sooner we can educate young people on the signs and to be aware and to speak out and to ask for help and get those resources, the better,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge, who has avoided carrying her own legislative package since taking office in January, said she’s not proposing specific changes in state law regarding domestic violence. She said she’ll keep holding roundtables with lawmakers, advocates, police and others to talk about the issue.


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