Friday — February 18, 2022
Bree's Law - The Case That Reduced Alaska's Teen Dating Violence Statistics
by: Cesar J Segura
“Breanna Moore just sparkles” was the way the 20-year-old was described by the hosts of the popular podcast Crime Junkies. Breanna (who was usually referred to as Bree by her close friends and family) was part of a special episode of Crime Junkies in February of 2020 for Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. In the year 2014, Bree was tragically murdered by her then boyfriend Joshua Almeda. You see Breanna spent her life in Alaska. The state is considered the most dangerous state in the United States for women, with over 50 percent of all Alaskan women having either been sexually or physically assaulted (Schnell 2019).
Breanna began dating her boyfriend Josh at the age of 19 while he was 21 years old. By all accounts, the relationship began as a whirlwind romance. However, upon Bree’s death, her parents quickly began to realize the gross reality of their daughter’s boyfriend. Prior to Bree’s murder, Josh was discovered by Bree’s parents to have been arrested multiple times during the years prior to their first encounter. From the time he turned 18 Josh was arrested for attempting to run someone over, driving under the influence, unauthorized possession of a handgun, and physically assaulting his own mother among other crimes. Unfortunately, the violence did not stop once Josh began dating Bree. At the start of their relationship, Bree consistently showed up to work with black eyes and other signs of abuse at the hands of Josh. However, her co-workers stated they did not know how to deal with the situation and did not attempt to intervene in anyway (Verge 2018). On the night of her death, Bree picked up Josh from his court appointed class for drug and alcohol abuse around 8:45 pm according to reports. Josh stated after the class, the pair stopped to buy a bottle of liquor and returned to his parent’s home to watch a movie in the basement. Bree had decided to take a quick shower prior to the movie and by the time she returned, Almeda had drank half a bottle of liquor. From that point on, he states the rest of the night was a blur. All Almeda remembers is grabbing his gun to show Bree how to clean it and jokingly pointing it at her; and (again jokingly) firing the gun. According to Josh, he thought the gun was not loaded. From his previous history of abuse, it was easy for police and prosecutors to determine that Josh had another instance of being unable to control his rage.
The story of Breanna Moore was unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 14 high school students in the country have encountered physical dating violence (CDC.gov). Upon the death of Bree, her parents quickly realized how teen dating violence effects so many of the youth in our country. Through much advocacy Bree’s parents were successful in working with Alaskan law makers to create The Alaska Safe Children’s Act (also known as Bree’s Law) of 2015 and a follow up legislation in 2018. Through these laws, funding was provided to create Alaska’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Prevention program. With the passage of Bree’s Law and the state-wide programs created from it, Alaska’s teen dating violence statistics were reduced by nearly half.
Currently, Senator Lisa Murkowski has introduced a bill to the United State Senate also known as “Bree’s Bill”. If passed at the federal level, this version of Bree’s Law would:
- Authorize a grant program for the purpose of improving adolescent health, including grants to train health care providers to reduce the incidence of teen dating violence and projects that increase awareness of abuse and prevention.
- Develop education and programs relating to teen dating violence and abuse awareness and prevention, which will be made available free-of-charge to high school and middle school students throughout the United States.
- Create an interagency working group to address teen dating violence composed of various Department of Health and Human Services agencies, the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice, and would include parents of teen dating violence victims and survivors of teen dating violence.
- Require an annual report to the Secretary of Health and Human Service detailing recommendation to reduce and prevent teen dating violence.
Though teen dating violence has not been eradicated in Alaska or the United States. Lawmakers are hopeful that if passed, Bree’s Law can show similar results to those in Alaska across the country. See the references below for additional information on Breanna Moore or Bree’s Law.