ORLANDO, Fla—Senator Randolph Bracy is making a new push to return oversight to programs meant to rehabilitate domestic violence offenders.

What You Need To Know

  • BIPs have been operating without state oversight

  • Senator Bracy's bill would require state to monitor and certify these court ordered programs

  • Bracy plans to file his new bill during the upcoming legislative session

This comes after a Spectrum News 13 watchdog investigation exposed that Batterers Intervention Programs, or BIPs, have been operating without any state oversight.

Last year, Senator Bracy’s bills had unanimous support, but didn’t make it out of subcommittee. This legislative session, Bracy is hoping his second attempt will be more successful.

Senate Bill 1218 would require the state to monitor and certify these court ordered programs.

For the last 10 years, the state has not monitored or certified BIPs after Florida lawmakers voted to remove that responsibility from the Department of Children and Families in 2012.

“If any program should be certified, it’s one like this - when we’re talking about lives at stake,” explains Bracy.

Bracy is hoping to once again put oversight of BIPs back under DCF’s responsibilities. He believes his bills died in subcommittee last year because many lawmakers weren’t aware this was even an issue- something Bracy says he himself learned after Spectrum News 13 brought him our initial Watchdog Investigation in 2020.

“I think people were just- members were just learning why it’s important and so I think it’s important they know there isn’t enough oversight and this can be a serious problem,” shares Bracy.

Bracy is now looking for a lawmaker in the House to file a companion bill.

There is a cost to taxpayers involved in putting BIPs back under state oversight. Bracy says DCF is still calculating that total.

Bracy plans to file his new bill during the upcoming legislative session- which starts January 11th.

This comes as Domestic Violence cases are rising here in Central Florida.

New numbers from Harbor House of Central Florida- a non-profit aimed at supporting domestic violence survivors and their families – show an increase in need.

In 2020 they provided just over 93 thousand services.

Compare that to the first 11 months of this year - that number jumped to nearly 100 thousand services, not including the month of December.