Domestic Violence Victim Successfully Advocates for Law Change

A local, Gilbert domestic violence victim, Leah Pettyjohn took charge of a campaign to prevent those charged with domestic violence offense from being released into a transitional program three months before their sentences were to end.

Senator Andy Biggs and Pettyjohn met with officials from the Arizona Department of Corrections to evaluate Pettyjohn’s concerns. Senate Bill 1213 was later sponsored by Senator Biggs and House Representative Eddie Farnsworth. The bill was passed promptly in the Senate, but received push-back in the House. Opponents to the bill contested that the transition program was effective. Once the Arizona Department of Corrections acknowledged and backed the bill, opposition quieted and the bill was passed to Governor Brewer. Pettyjohns efforts were successful, the bill was signed into law on March 21, 2012.

Pettyjohn strongly advocated for the bill because of her own struggles with her abusive ex-husband. After a domestic violence dispute nearly caused her to lose consciousness Pettyjohn contacted community networks for domestic violence victims. After a turbulent experience with her ex-husband that resulted in him being arrested on a number of occasions for violating court orders, restraining orders, and probation, Pettyjohn successfully barred her husband from entering the domestic violence violators transitional program. Pettyjohn attributed her success to taking power of her situation, aid and support from community agencies, and aggressive advocacy for other domestic violence victims.

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