Victims of stalkers may may soon have a new law to protect them, with the approval of bills in both the Senate and the House that would create a new kind of civil protection order for stalking.
The legislation comes in response to the murder of Jennifer Paulson in 2010. Paulson was an elementary school teacher in Tacoma who was killed by a former co-worker who had stalked her for seven years.
“If we had had further protection for someone like Jennifer through the court system, we could have prevented her death,” said sponsor Rep. Roger Goodman (D – Kirkland) during a floor session in the House on Monday.
Goodman’s bill expands the behaviors that qualify as felony stalking and increases criminal penalties for the crime.
The law currently allows people to get no-contact orders or protection orders for domestic violence or harassment. Both of the new bills would create another type of protection order specifically for cases of stalking.
“It is obvious that we need more protection for those who are stalked,” said Sen. Steve Conway (D – Tacoma) as he introduced a similar bill on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Conway’s bill doesn’t go quite as far in increasing penalties for stalking as Goodman’s, but it too would create a new anti-stalking protection order.
Both bills received unanimous approval in their respective chambers.