Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ridiculous! Topeka, Kansas Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence

A couple of days ago the Topeka, Kansas City Council debated whether or not to decriminalize domestic violence. I know, I know. Just ridiculous. I'm so angry.

On Sept. 8, facing a 10% budget cut, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced he would no longer prosecute misdemeanor cases, including domestic battery (what?!?), at the county level.  At the City Council meeting recently, a proposed change has been made that would repeal the part of code that bans domestic battery (what?!?).

The problem? No one can decide who should be prosecuting the cases of domestic battery--whether it should be taken to municipal court or district court, and who pays for it? The thought process by the city is that by NOT repealing the ban the county won't let DV go unpunished in Topeka and will be forced to pick up the cases.

So, what message is being sent? Domestic violence is unimportant and insignificant. Great. Just great.  Here we have a county which stopped prosecuting DV crimes a month ago and a city which is seriously considering legalizing the crime.  The major issue: everyone professes to supporting punishment for DV, but they all want someone else to pay for it. It has been reported that the county DA has offered to continue prosecuting DVcases, for a one-time payment by the city.

And don't even think that this won't really have an impact. Domestic violence advocates in Topeka have already seen vulnerable people impacted. Since Sept. 8 when the county stopped prosecuting, more than 30 DVcases have been ignored. After being arrested and taken to jail, 16 people have been released when charges weren't filed.

Notably, during the City Council meeting, the public was urged to contact the city governing body and the district attorney’s office to share ideas on how to resolve the matter amicably. The City Council is expected to make a decision next week.

I simply can't believe this situation. Do people really think decriminalizing DV is a solution? I don't even think it should be an option. The fact that this is proposed as an option and so many cases have already been ignored/rejected is abominable. I seriously fear for the citizens of Topeka and the many individuals living with DV. Once again we allow money to impede work to stop a serious social problem. Money.

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