Legalizing Domestic Violence Is Kansas Lawmakers' Worst Idea Yet

domestic violence

Are you ready to hear something really sick and twisted? The city of Topeka, Kansas is considering decriminalizing domestic violence in what can only be described as a pathetic attempt to save money.

Here's how this debate started in the first place: The Shawnee County District Attorney's office, facing a 10 percent budget cut, announced last month that the county would no longer be prosecuting misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, at the county level. This meant that all those cases would be dumped on the city of Topeka, which is facing its own severe budget crisis. So how does the city plan on getting out of prosecuting these extra cases? One idea is to threaten to repeal the part of the city code that bans domestic battery -- or, in other words, make it legal to beat your wife.


As Feministing points out, these lawmakers are essentially playing a high-stakes game of chicken: Neither the county nor the city wants domestic violence to go unpunished (supposedly); it's just that no one wants to pay for it. The serious problem, however, is that until this dispute is resolved, there are clear losers in the game: the victims of domestic violence.

Ever since the county's announcement last month, 30 domestic violence cases have been turned back. What's even more alarming is that during this time, 16 people have been arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery and then released from the county jail after charges weren't filed. You don't need an expert to tell you how dangerous this is for victims of domestic violence, but I'll include one anyway (Becky Dickinson from the YWCA):

Letting abusive partners out of jail with no consequences puts victims in incredibly dangerous positions ... The abuser will often become more violent in an attempt to regain control.

Kansas' lawmakers maintain that prosecuting domestic violence "is such a priority blah blah blah," but I don't buy it for a second. Because if that were actually true, they'd wouldn't waste time on this outrageous idea and would find another way to save money -- one that doesn't put vulnerable people's lives at serious risk.

For information about what you can do to put pressure on Kansas' lawmakers to resolve this dispute, visit the Facebook page for Kansas National Organization for Women.


Image via zappowbang/Flickr

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