|By Fallon Williams
27-year-old Jennifer Martel was a caring mom to a little girl. Working her way through college, Jennifer hoped to become an elementary school teacher. Jennifer’s boyfriend had a long history of criminal activity, including domestic violence, yet was released on his own recognizance after smashing Jennifer’s head into a mirror Tuesday, Aug. 13. Just two nights later, he was found covered in blood after stabbing Jennifer to death in the presence of their four-year-old daughter and neighbors.
While Massachusetts is at the forefront of the war against domestic violence, the recent murder of Jennifer Martel highlights a gaping flaw in the current system. Under M.G.L. 276 sec. 58A, offenders can be released on their own recognizance, without any bail set, within 24 hours of an assault. An emergency restraining ordered was issued against Jennifer’s assailant, but since Jennifer did not appear in court the day after she was attacked, her assailant was released without bail on his on recognizance.
When I heard about Jennifer’s murder, I was moved to create this petition. It seems senseless that this beautiful, caring young woman is gone. Something must be done to ensure this never happens again. As a child, I was a victim of domestic violence and witnessed the abuse of my birth-mother as well. Luckily, my father was able to remove me from the situation. Most children are not so lucky.
Females murdered by a current or former partner account for 30% of homicides against women each year. In many instances of intimate partner homicide, domestic violence is a precursor to murder. More often than not, victims of domestic violence do not take action against their abusers for a number of reasons, including fear of retaliation. Known abusers should not be allowed to walk free without bail within 24 hours of a repeat offense. Special concern should be warranted when there is a child in the home, as well.
I am asking for your signature on this petition, in order to prompt the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to close the loophole that allows repeat, violent offenders to be released without immediate consequence, putting their victims and the public at risk.