Violence Against Women in Kentucky: A History of U.S. and State Legislative Reform

Violence Against Women in Kentucky: A History of U.S. and State Legislative Reform

Author: Carol E. Jordan
Publisher: Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2014. 480p.
Reviewer: Jessica Schmidt

Violence against women has occurred since the beginning of time. In the United States, the women’s movement of the 1960s led to actions in the 1970s focused on bringing attention to and reforming our responses to violence against women. Legislative reforms were sought to address problems in the civil and criminal responses to these crimes, to increase and make services more available to victims, and to prevent these victims from being re-victimized by the reporting process and the criminal justice system. Despite this progress, violence against women continues to be prevalent today, especially in terms of domestic violence, rape, and stalking. In Violence Against Women in Kentucky: A History of U.S. and State Legislative Reform, Carol Jordan examines the legislative reforms that occurred in Kentucky between 1970 and 2012 to address violence against women. While great progress has been made, Jordan reminds us that the work is not done. Such violence continues to be a problem today, and despite the gains that have been made in the past, we must continue to fight to protect and expand the gains made by previous advocates.

The greatest strength of this book is its central focus on Kentucky. For those who work with or study the victims and/or offenders of these crimes in Kentucky, this book is an indispensible resource that will provide them with a clear understanding of how we got to where we are. Jordan introduces the readers to many of the women and movements in Kentucky that have fought to protect victims, to provide them with much needed services, and to ensure their continued safety. A chapter on the prevalence of these crimes and the inclusion of some of the stories of these victims connects the readers to the victims’ struggles. Jordan’s inclusion of the structure of the Kentucky legislature and the legislative process introduces the readers to some of the information that advocates need to have to succeed in getting legislation passed. Finally, Jordan evaluates what was achieved, when it was achieved, and how it was achieved in a decade by decade examination of the many laws that have had an impact on violent crimes against women. Jordan’s inclusion of some examples of bills that failed to become law demonstrates that what does not get passed is often as important to our understanding as what does.

While the bookis a great resource for those in Kentucky, a quick glance at the title could make it appear irrelevant to readers in other states. This should not be the case since Jordan has included several components that are useful to readers everywhere. For example, two chapters are devoted to federal laws in this area that impact every state. Violence Against Women in Kentucky is thoroughly researched, and the extensive literature review, end notes, bibliography, and index make it a wonderful academic source. At the same time, the personal stories and experiences make this book an interesting read for all. While Jordan introduces many potential topics for research and reform, the biggest contribution that she has made to the literature on violence against women is identifying the need for a legislative history from each and every state.

Jessica Schmidt, Tiffin University

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