GALLIPOLIS — With the recent passage of House Bill 359, also called the Safe at Home Initiative, and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, Gallia Prosecutor Jeff Adkins told the Daily Tribune he feels the law will be a vital tool in combating harassment in Gallia County.
The Ohio House of Representatives passed the legislation in late January. It passed the Ohio Senate in late May.
The law attempts to create an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape and sexual battery. Victims will be assigned a post office box at the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to be used for all governmental records in Ohio. The true address of the victim will be protected from disclosure, granting victims the freedom to register to vote, register a vehicle and complete government forms without fear of disclosing their home address to an abuser searching public records. In addition to government agencies, the program permits participants to request their employer, school or institution of higher education to use the post office box assigned to them by the secretary of state.
“As a long-standing member of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, we have put our full support behind this important legislation,” Adkins said. “Other groups who joined in the efforts included the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the Ohio Coalition to End Sexual Violence, the Ohio Secretary of State, the Fraternal Order of Police and others.”
According to Adkins, there is no reason for a victim of crime to continually worry about their personal safety when wanting to exercise the right to vote or use basic public services which may then expose them to danger given research into public records.
“As a prosecutor, my focus is on separating victims from their abusers. Address confidentiality measures such as HB 359 help us accomplish that goal. My office staff includes a victim’s advocate who will be working closely with victims of sex crimes and domestic violence to promote the benefits of this program,” Adkins said.