The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) named state Rep. Wendell Willard, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, as a recipient of the Legislative Champion Award. Judge Robert McBurney, Superior Court, Atlanta Judicial Circuit; Judge Peggy Walker, Juvenile Court, Douglas Judicial Circuit; AOC Director Marla S. Moore; GA Federation of Women’s Clubs’ Domestic Violence Committee Chair Linda Newton; and Executive Director Greg Loughlin will present Rep. Willard with the award at the Sandy Springs City Council Meeting tonight at Sandy Springs City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500, Sandy Springs, GA 30350.
GCFV chose Rep. Willard for the award because of his ongoing leadership to make Georgia a safer place for women, children, and men across their lifespan. Among Rep. Willard’s 2013 legislative successes are the passage of HB 78 (Protections for At-Risk Adults) and HB 242 (Juvenile Justice Reform), both of which he sponsored. Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 242 into law on May 2, 2013, and HB 78 into law on May 3, 2013.
GCFV Chairman Judge Stephen Kelley, Superior Courts, Brunswick Judicial Circuit, lauded Rep. Willard’s efforts on behalf of victims of family violence saying, “As a judge and Chairman of the Commission, I want to acknowledge and recognize Rep. Willard. His determination to protect the most vulnerable among us will not only benefit countless numbers of victims but all the citizens of Georgia by making Georgia a safer place to live.”
HB 78 (At-Risk Adults) provides additional protections for Elderly Adults and People with Disabilities by moving relevant crimes against elder and disabled adults into the criminal code section most frequently used by law enforcement, expanding criminal protection for elder and disabled adults against sexual abuse and financial exploitation, expanding and clarifying the mandatory reporting requirements, and creating a process to speed up depositions for witnesses aged 72 years and older in criminal proceedings.
HB 242 (Juvenile Justice Reform) substantially revises and modernizes provisions relating to juvenile proceedings, and enacts comprehensive juvenile justice reforms to improve public safety, reduce recidivism, and decrease costs.
Judge McBurney remarked on the significance of Rep. Willard’s achievements: “Rep. Willard’s tireless legislative efforts produced not one, but two groundbreaking laws this year that will improve the lives of two critically underserved populations: juveniles and at-risk adults. The Commission has long championed increased legal protections for at-risk adults, who are too easily and too often subject to financial, emotional, and physical abuse from unscrupulous family members. Similarly, the Commission has encouraged reform of the juvenile justice system to increase resources being made available to those youths whose criminal problems are by-products of living in abusive households. This year, Rep. Willard answered both calls and delivered legislative proposals that put Georgia at the forefront of reform and protection.”
The Georgia Commission on Family Violence is a state agency that was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1992 to develop a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. Please go to http://gcfv.georgia.gov/ for more information.