Friday, October 14, 2011

Not Prosecuting Domestic Abusers A Really Bad Way To Protest Budget Cuts

There's been quite the kerfuffle brewing in Topeka, Kansas over a decision by the District Attorney's office to stop prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases because of a $3.5 million dollar cut to the DA's office budget. This caused a "tit for tat" reaction by the City of Topeka who dropped their ordinance against domestic violence in order to force the DA's office to start prosecuting them again. A story by The Christian Science Monitor has this bit.

Mr. Taylor's actions in Kansas were “a high-profile way” to show the county the downside of digging too deeply with the budget knife, says Jeffrey Jackson, a professor of law at Washburn University in Topeka.

“What people don’t realize is district attorneys and prosecutors have a lot of discretion about what cases they will prosecute and what cases they bring and what cases they settle. This is the most blatant way to make the argument that, if they don’t have the budget, they have to pick and choose more,” Professor Jackson says.

While I understand that budget cuts have been hard on quite a number of agencies, it seems to me like they are playing with fire up there. There are quite a number of other offenses I could see not prosecuting before I'd start turning loose domestic battery suspects. All it's going to take is for a released domestic violence suspect to go back and kill his spouse for this to backfire badly.

It would be real interesting to see what other misdemeanor cases got prosecuted while these domestic violence suspects got a free ride. I also hope these kinds of shenanigans don't spread to other cash strapped agencies.

Has your agency prioritized the types of services you must provide and the types that you can provide if resources allow?

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