OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Currently in Oklahoma, when it comes to domestic abuse, it's up to the District Attorney whether strangulation is prosecuted as a violent crime felony. Today, two bills pass the Senate floor that would change that and put tougher sentences in place.
“Strangulation is such a prevalent problem,” said Brandon Pasley of the OKC YWCA.
Pasley works with domestic violence victims. He says it can take as little as 4.4 pounds of pressure per square inch around the throat to kill.
“It still baffles me that we don’t have more prosecution regarding strangulation as attempted homicide,” said Pasley.
But that could soon change.
Today S1103 and 1104 were debated on the Senate floor. They would make strangulation a violent crime and would stiffen penalties and fines.
“If you are in a bar fight and you inflict great bodily harm on the victim, yes, that is a violent crime, but for some reason in domestic violence, it's not always the case,” said Senator Rob Standridge.
The Republican Senator from Norman says studies show that victims of strangulation are 750 times more likely to then be a domestic homicide victim.
His bills would raise the maximum sentence from 3 years to 10 years for strangulation in a domestic violence situation and require 85% of the sentence to be served before parole.
“Why it wasn’t done before? Well, some people might not have looked at it so close and it maybe wasn’t as big an issue as it is today,” said Standridge.
Today the bills passed the Senate- outcomes welcomed by those who deal with abuse.
“Penalties that elevate strangulation events to violent crimes absolutely send the message across the state in terms of sentencing that we take strangulation very seriously,” said Pasley.
Standridge says the stronger sentences not only act as a deterrent but also keep the criminal away from the victim.
This bill will now likely meet up with a similar one that passed the House in a conference committee.