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N.H. House committee votes to back domestic violence bill

A House committee voted nearly unanimously yesterday in support of a bill that would establish domestic violence as a crime in New Hampshire.

The bill, known as “Joshua’s Law,” passed the Senate in February and now heads for a floor vote in the House later this spring. It would allow more than a dozen existing crimes to be prosecuted under a special statute when a domestic or intimate relationship exists between the defendant and the victim. The bill is named in honor of a 9-year-old boy who was shot and killed by his father in Manchester last year.

Rep. Geoffrey Hirsch, a Bradford Democrat, praised the legislation as a way to both hold perpetrators more accountable and prevent domestic conflicts from escalating.

Acts of domestic violence “are repetitive and increasingly violent,” Hirsch told fellow members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. “And I think having that track record does more than just aid in prosecution. I think it protects potential victims.”

Rep. Mark Warden, a Manchester Republican, was the lone committee member to vote against the bill. In a public hearing last week, he and two other Republicans, Steve Vaillancourt of Manchester and Kyle Tasker of Nottingham, questioned its effectiveness and relevance.

Vaillancourt expressed continued uncertainty yesterday about the bill but offered his support nonetheless.

New Hampshire is one of 15 states that does not have a law making domestic violence a crime. A state report in 2012 stated that half of all homicides and 92 percent of murder-suicides in New Hampshire are related to domestic violence.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

If that law was in effect would that young child be alive today? Or is it better to ask if the visitation center did it job, the advocates did their job, judges did their job and others involved just simply did their job, would it be more plausible and realistic that the young man would be alive today? There is no excuse for violence - absolute zero and what happened was a horrible tragedy. I have never seen a community such as the domestic violent community exploit such a tragedy to excuse itself from it's share or role of accountability. I think if there's was a real system of checks and balances, people would be very surprised just how much more damage they create then do good. I applaud the very few who didn't buy into the law and get caught into feel good politics.

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