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Lawmakers Push for Stronger Anti-Stalking Laws

Representative Charlene Fite sponsors a bill to toughen penalties for stalking violations.
Lawmakers are pushing to strengthen laws against stalking in Arkansas. Victim's rights advocates say they're seeing more and more cases but argue current laws don't do enough to protect people.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime--Stalking Resource Center, 78 percent of women will be stalked at some point in their lives. Some believe it's too hard to prosecute those cases under current law, because it's too difficult to understand.They're hoping proposed House Bill 2146, sponsored by Representative Charlene Fite, will clarify the law and make it easier to prosecute stalkers.

A spokesperson for the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence says victims find themselves harassed online, in person and over the phone but within the current law, there has to be very serious and even a deadly threat in order for a person to face criminal charges. The new bill is set to be discussed in a judiciary committee Tuesday.

"Stalking victims have their lives totally disrupted. They are afraid to go to work, afraid to go from work to home because they are afraid of their stalker," says Representative Fite.

Stalking often occurs before homicides in some domestic abuse situations. They hope to strengthen the law by further defining stalking and taking out the need for a death threat to get harsh penalties.
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