Legislative Issue Reforms


Eliminating use of lie detectors on sexual assault survivors (Wisconsin)

In PAVE’s first legislative victory, Wisconsin outlawed the subjection of rape victims to polygraph tests. Police departments had been making decisions about whether to investigate sexual assaults based on statements of the victim, often in the immediate aftermath of the assault and still shaken up or in shock. The inevitable result of this double-victimizing practice was an erosion of trust between victims and the police, for what is already the most under-reported crime in the United States, as well as an impediment to justice. At the committee hearing, Angela Rose, PAVE Founder, recounted the day she was abducted, assaulted and then disbelieved by police despite lacerations on her wrists where she had been bound. Even as Angela expertly retold her story so many years later, her voice cracked, her heart began pounding, and she struggled for words, even as she pointed out that a polygraph taken at that moment would probably declare her testimony untruthful. Thankfully, Wisconsin legislators understood the inanity of this practice and outlawed it shortly after this moving testimony.


Prohibiting Sexual interaction between
Prison Guards and Inmates (Wisconsin)

In 2001 Wisconsin was among a handful of states in which there was no explicit prohibition of sexual contact between prison guards and inmates. Several cases emerged in the news of prison guards having sex with inmates and were found to have committed no crime, despite the enormous power disparity that infringed upon consent. PAVE partnered with Amnesty International and the advocacy efforts and turnout to committee hearings helped push this bill through to a nearly unanimous vote. Wisconsin prosecutors now can try an assailant for forcing sex from an inmate using the enormous and coercive power of his position. Now, like most states, Wisconsin prosecutors can try an assailant for forcing sex from an inmate by using the coercive power of that position.


Alcohol Considered an Intoxicant under Rape Law (Wisconsin)

Wisconsin was the last state in the nation to list alcohol as an intoxicant that can incapacitate an individual to a point where consent to sexual contact becomes exploitive. Numerous District Attorneys joined PAVE in endorsing this bill championed by Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison) enable prosecution of sexual assaults committed against people who were blacked out drunk and did not provide consent just as in cases of other drug intoxication. After five years of grassroots mobilizing, public education, letter-writing campaigns, lobby visits, committee testimony, and press work, the bill was finally given legs when Rep. Mouton (R) bucked his own party and the liquor lobby to co-sponsor the bill and champion it across party lines. Finally, in 2008, Wisconsin joined the rest of the nation in affirming that alcohol was an intoxicant capable of disrupting affirmative consent.


Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Act (Wisconsin)

Rape victims were previously denied access to emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after a rape due to religious objection of healthcare professional or because of lack of supply. After three consecutive Legislatures in which PAVE joined with reproductive choice organizations to lobby, Wisconsin finally established a minimum standard that all Wisconsin hospitals would provide emergency contraception to rape victims as a standard protocol in treating victims. This legislation passed through a Democratic Senate and a Republican Assembly, and was signed by Governor Jim Doyle in 2007. PAVE also successfully lobbied for a City of Madison, WI ordinance requiring pharmacies that refuse to dispense contraception to post a sign on their window warning customers of that refusal.


Survivor Justice Campaign

PAVE’s Survivor Justice Campaign is part of the Legislative Issues Committee of PAVE. This campaign calls for awareness in protest against unfair or unscrupulous policies, legislation or legal practices and to petition for reforms at federal, state and institutional level.


“Justice For Patty” Ordinance

For years, police and city lawyers refused to believe a blind woman who said an intruder raped her at knifepoint. They even charged her with lying about the crime. PAVE’s Austin King spearheaded the “Justice for Patty” resolution to seek justice for the victim of the 1997 rape and for an official apology from the Madison Police Department for how it handled the case. Initially, Madison police didn’t believe Patty and coerced her to temporarily recant the story during questioning. Patty was charged with obstruction of justice. King’s “Justice for Patty” resolution calls for the city of Madison to apologize, pay $35,000 in restitution for lost wages and legal fees and draft new police policy that would prohibit detectives from using lies and ruses when interrogating sex assault victims. This resolution was successfully passed and covered in the book Cry Rape. LEARN MORE >>


Sunnyvale Middle School

PAVE alerted its supporters about an incident of sexual violence in the boys’ locker room at Sunnyvale Middle School in Dallas, Texas, after some of the male students were sexually assaulted by other boys. The school attempted to ignore the issue until PAVE members sent over 400 emails from all over the country to the school and school board demanding that the victims of this assault received justice. This resulted in 13 felony counts. The Dallas News reported on the assualt at Sunnyvale Middle School.


Emergency National Protest –Call it “Rape”

In 2007, PAVE staged an emergency protest dubbed “Call it RAPE” where nearly 40 cities across the country participated in response to the silencing of rape victims in court.

In one particularly tragic case, Tory Bowen was a 21 year old college student who was raped on Halloween by a man who was arrested 3 times for rape, though never convicted. After she reported the crime and the trial was approaching, she was horrified at NE Judge Jeffery Chevrount’s ruling to ban language from her testimony. She was banned from using words including: sexual assault, rape, date rape drugs, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, and other words to describe her encounter. Effectively gagged, she risked jail time and being held in contempt of court if those words were used to describe what happened to her in the testimony. PAVE orchestrated a national protest in three business days that spanned 40 cities across the country. It was covered by CNN, Today Show and in TIME magazine. Please sign our petition to ensure Tory’s injustice is not suffered by other victims.



Erin’s Law

The purpose of this law is to inform and protect students from sexual abuse. To mandate school districts implement and educate students on sexual abuse. School boards will adopt age appropriate curriculum on sexual abuse education to students grades pre-k through 5th grade. Education in schools is an effective method for preventing children from falling prey to sexual abuse or stay silent if it does occur.

PAVE supported Erin’s Law that was signed into law in the state of Illinois in Feb 2011. PAVE wants Erin’s Law in every state! Click here for more info on PAVE Ambassador Erin Merryn and Erin’s Law: http://www.erinmerryn.net/erins-law.html


Healthy Families Act (S. 910/HR. 1542)

In America, over 66 million workers have no sick leave, even after a full year of employment. In fact, one study found that this affects 50% of gender violence victims who lose or leave their jobs in the wake of the crime due to missing days from work. This act will assist victims of sexual or domestic violence in keeping their jobs and provide some economic security in the immediate aftermath of violence.


Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2005

This Act prompts the Attorney General to provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that: (1) constitutes a crime of violence under federal law or a felony under state or Indian tribal law; and (2) is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability of the victim or is a violation of the hate crime laws of the state or tribe.