Rep. Patricia Stricherz (R-8/Winfred) is working on two pieces of legislation to protect women and children. The first bill is tentatively titled the "South Dakota Indian Family Preservation Act." It is essentially an effort to bring South Dakota into compliance with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. South Dakota's failure to comply with ICWA was documented in the controversial Sullivan & Waters October 2011 report on NPR. Federal officials are planning a summit on Indian foster care issues in South Dakota, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering sending federal lawyers to South Dakota to push ICWA enforcement. Rep. Stricherz's proposed legislation is the first formal state-level response (other than denial) that I've seen. Rep. Stricherz deserves our thanks for her willingness to lead this conversation in the state legislature.
The Hope Card Project is an attempt to couple law enforcement's need for information during incidents involving violations of protection orders and the victim's need for streamlined services during times of crisis.
...The Hope Card is approximately the size of a standard business card and contains a photo and personal information of the vicitm and the respondent, as well as the case number of the order of protection, the issuing court and county, the date it was issued as well as the expiration date, if any.
These special cards are available to anyone with a valid permanant order of protection. They are also available to children that may be involved in this order [Rep. Patricia Stricherz, Facebook post, 2011.08.13].
The Missoulian editors and Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock think Hope Cards will greatly improve the lives of domestic abuse victims:
These wallet-size cards would contain all the information needed for law enforcement to immediately determine if a person has a valid order of protection, no matter where in Montana that person might be. Thus, a person who lives in one police jurisdiction may travel to another jurisdiction without the need to carry a thick file around at all times. In addition, Hope Cards would include a photo of the person restrained under the order, something many orders of protection lack.
..."It is without a doubt, that these cards will make incredibly difficult situations for law enforcement and victims more manageable," Bullock said in a prepared statement. "They are compact and easy to carry, so those protected will be more likely to have them in their possession in dangerous scenarios and law enforcement won't have to decipher lengthy court documents" [editorial, "Hope Cards Simplify Protection...,"The Missoulian, 2010.04.29].
Rep. Stricherz deserves further commendation for keeping her eyes open for good ideas from our neighbors. Both the Hope Card and legislation to improve our foster care system promise benefits for children and families across our state.