Senator Sullivan’s POWER Act Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) issued the following statement after President Trump signed S. 717, the Pro Bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER) Act into law. To help combat domestic abuse and sexual violence, Senator Sullivan first introduced the POWER Act in 2015. The POWER Act mandates that each year for four years, the Chief Judge of each Judicial District across the country hold at least one event promoting pro bono legal services as a critical way to empower survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, engage citizens, and help lift victims out of the cycle of violence. The bill also requires that every two years for four years, an event be held in areas with high numbers of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, with a focus on addressing these issues among Native populations.

“We must get serious about reducing the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska and across the country,” Senator Sullivan said. “The statistics are horrific. Roughly 25 percent of American women will be victims of domestic assault in their lifetime. On average, every day in our country, three women are killed by a current or former partner. Research has shown that when abused victims are represented by an attorney, their ability to break out of the cycle of violence increases dramatically. Our hope is that the POWER Act will help create an army of lawyers to defend victims and survivors of abuse. I’m thankful to my colleagues in both chambers on both sides of the aisle for working with me to get this bill passed and I’m grateful to the president for signing it into law.”

Background on S.717, the POWER Act:

  • The National Network to End Domestic Violence estimated that over the course of one day in September 2014, up to 10,000 requests for services by abused women, including legal representation, weren’t met because of lack of resources.
  • Research has shown that when abuse victims are represented by an attorney, their ability to break out of the cycle of violence increases dramatically. For example, one study found that 83 percent of victims represented by an attorney were able to obtain a protective order compared to just 32 percent of victims without an attorney.
  • The POWER Act is modeled after the pro bono summits Senator Sullivan organized throughout the state while he was Attorney General of Alaska working on the Choose Respect campaign.
  • U.S. Senators Heitkamp (D-ND), Shaheen (D-NH), Murkowski (R-AK), Capito (R-WV), Cornyn (R-TX), and Daines (R-MT) were original co-sponsors of the bill in the Senate. Representatives Kennedy (D-MA), Young (R-AK), Gabbard (D-HI), Brooks (R-IN), and McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced companion legislation in the House in March 2017.