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H.646

Introduced by   Committee on Judiciary

Date:

Subject:  Criminal procedure; special investigative units

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to provide all Vermont counties and citizens with access to special investigative units for crimes of sexual violence within three years.

AN ACT RELATING TO SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE UNITS FOR SEX CRIMES

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

(a)  Special investigative units are devoted solely to the investigation, victim advocacy, and prosecution of sexual violence, child sexual and physical abuse, and other serious family abuse.  The units are multidisciplinary task forces comprising specially trained investigators, victim advocates, department for children and families workers, and prosecutors, whose caseload is confined to matters involving sexual violence, child sexual and physical abuse, and family abuse. 

(b)  Because of their specialized training and experience with sexual violence, special investigative units achieve a high conviction rate and are one of the most effective models available for investigating and prosecuting crimes of sexual violence.  

(c)  Maintaining a limited caseload permits the units’ investigations to be more thoroughly and expertly performed than is generally the case.  As a result, an unusually high proportion of defendants, approximately 70 percent, confess involvement in the crime. 

(d)  The high confession rate achieved by special investigative units means convictions are frequently obtained without having to go to trial.  If a victim, especially a child, does not have to go through the rigors and stresses of testifying, the child is not revictimized. 

(e)  The smaller caseloads for special investigative units allow the unit’s attorneys, victim advocates, and investigators to devote more time to each individual case.  This additional care and attention has a positive effect on advocacy for the victim, the quality of the case for prosecution, and the quality of the case for trial.

(f)  The department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs currently has two special investigative units in place, one in Chittenden County, known as CUSI, which has been in operation since 1990 and one in Franklin/Grand Isle County, known as NUSI, which has been in operation since 1995.

(g)  The extraordinary success of CUSI and NUSI in prosecuting sex crimes merits expanding special investigative units so that all Vermont counties and citizens have access to this highly effective law enforcement and prosecutorial tool.          

Sec. 2.  24 V.S.A. § 1940 is amended to read:

§ 1940.  TASK FORCES; SPECIALIZED INVESTIGATIVE UNITS;

               BOARD; GRANTS

(a)  Pursuant to the authority established under section 1938 of this title, the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs shall by July 1, 2009 provide all Vermont counties with access to a special investigative unit to investigate sex crimes, child abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence, or crimes against those with physical or developmental disabilities.  In implementing this subsection, the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs should act with all deliberate speed in order to ensure that special investigative units are available to serve all Vermonters as soon as is reasonably possible. 

(b)  A task force or specialized investigative unit organized and operating under section 1938 of this title section may accept, receive, and disburse in furtherance of its duties and functions any funds, grants, and services made available by the state of Vermont and its agencies, the federal government and its agencies, any municipality or other unit of local government, or private or civic sources.

(b)(c)  A specialized investigative unit grants board is created which shall be comprised of the attorney general, the secretary of administration, the executive director of the department of state’s attorneys, the commissioner of the department of public safety, the executive director of the center for crime victim services, and the executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.  Specialized investigative units organized and operating under section 1938 of this title section for the investigation of sex crimes, child abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence, or crimes against those with physical or developmental disabilities may apply to the board for a grant or grants covering the costs of salaries and employee benefits to be expended during a given year for the performance of unit duties as well as unit operating costs for rent, utilities, equipment, training, and supplies.  Grants under this section shall be approved by a majority of the entire board and shall not exceed 50 percent of the yearly salary and employee benefit costs of the unit.

(c)(d)  The board may adopt rules relating to grant eligibility criteria, processes for applications, awards, and reports related to grants authorized pursuant to this section.  The attorney general shall be the adopting authority.

Sec. 3.  APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  The amount of $500,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs for purposes of funding the special investigative units established by subsection 1940(a) of Title 24.

(b)  The general assembly intends that after fiscal year 2007, an appropriation be made to the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs during each fiscal year until fiscal year 2009 to fund the special investigative units established by subsection 1940(a) of Title 24.  The amount appropriated in fiscal year 2008 should be at least three percent greater than $500,000.00, and the amount appropriated in each successive year should be at least three percent greater than the amount appropriated during the preceding year.  



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us