Domestic Violence Decriminalized?

E. D. Cain, a contributor for Forbes magazine, recently reported on a controversial law enforcement issue.

His story appeared with this eye-catching title:

Topeka Kansas Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence

Now that is a troubling headline, eh?

A community that would allow domestic violence?

And Mr. Cain's article appears convincing in stating that domestic violence enforcement is on the chopping-block in Topeka.

That is at least on the surface.

Here is an excerpt:

In Topeka, Kansas city officials are considering a controversial move to decriminalize domestic violence in the city after the Shawnee County government offloaded domestic violence enforcement on to city governments. Cities facing budget cuts and lost revenue are turning to many different cost-cutting measures, but this is perhaps the most extreme.

Already, the county government has turned away at least 30 domestic violence cases.

Most domestic violence cases go unreported. Decriminalizing domestic violence will simply push these cases further into the shadows.

Considering that marital rape was legal in almost every state until 1976, perhaps this is simply an illustration of our society slipping backwards, toward the days when men had total domination over the wives...

...Even advocates of austerity (and I am not one of them) should realize that this is wrong-headed, both in terms of raw economics and simple morality.

Hopefully the bill will die in a flurry of outrage and indignation. Women are already facing an uphill battle with few good choices in situations of domestic violence. In Topeka, a grim picture will become a great deal more bleak if this law is passed.

So what happened last night at Topeka's City Council Meeting?

Did officials kill the proposal as Mr. Cain argued they must?


The measure passed 7-3, and Topeka's domestic violence ordinance was repealed.


The reality is that domestic violence enforcement was not crippled with the "Yea" votes.

The realization that Mr. Cain missed was that each state, as mandated by the federal government, has domestic violence laws.

Whether local ordinances exist or not is irrelevant.

It is not the norm for police to arrest for domestic violence based on local charges.

If an officer arrives at the scene of domestic violence, he/she can arrest for a misdemeanor or felony based on that state's law (or Commonwealth, but I'll try to keep it simple).

Topeka not having a local ordinance banning domestic violence should have no impact on the problem there.

If anyone is putting domestic violence victims at risk, it would be county prosecutor Chad Taylor.

But I believe Mr. Taylor's statement that he does not have the funds to prosecute misdemeanor domestic violence cases as just managerial maneuvering. 

The district attorney wants more money for his office, but it looks like Topeka's council called his bluff.

And I have no doubt that the DA will continue to prosecute misdemeanor domestic violence cases in his county

If he chooses the alternative, the nationwide backlash that he would face from citizen groups in combination with the jurisdiction's liability of letting potential repeat violent offenders go would be overwhelming.

Expect the county attorney to find another way to deal with his office's budget constraints.

It sounds like the city council made a rational decision despite what those who failed to grasp the full extent of the situation would lead us to believe.

23 comments: said...

It might be better to use a uniform state law than a patchwork of local ordinances.

Michael Offutt said...

I'm glad I don't live in Kansas.

Wendster said...

This was a very interesting post. you keep up with the most interesting subjects. Nicely summarized too. Thanks for sharing. (and thanks for visiting)

Amie Kaufman said...

Really interesting reading--I must admit that as I started reading, there was a litle bit of 'whaaaaat?' going on in my head. Shows the benefit of reading all the way to the end, and making sure you understand issues!

The Blonde Duck said...

As my husband said last night, "I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

Pat Hatt said...

Who would even think this? It just shows plain stupidity, we truly do seem to be regressing.

Bob G. said...

This is ONE road we, as a society REALLY DO NOT want to go down...not with rising stats!

It's bad enough that some crimes have been "relabelled" or reclassified, so as to allow us to believe that crimes are going DOWN, when they are on the upswing.

That only reflects crimes REPORTED, and, as your post mentions, MOST crimes (like this) go UNreported...for YEARS, and are not properly dealt with even AFTER an R/O is issued (restraining order).
It usually takes a felony like HOMICIDE to wise everyone the hell then, it's too late.

Excellent post & great comments.

Stay safe.

KittyCat said...

I live in Missouri but that's just a hop and a skip from
ks :(

Matthew MacNish said...

This makes no sense to me. However, in my family, domestic violence is prosecuted by the brothers, sons, fathers, and cousins.

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

One reason I turned down two separate opportunities to work in law enforcement was that I knew I would end up in prison myself. Sending me to deal with some jerk abusing his family would end up in a police involved shooting.

Any man who mistreats a woman, children or even animals is not a real man and I do not have the temperment to remain objective while dealing with a low life like that.

Little Ms. Fun said...

Our society is going backwards. Why would anyone even suggest this? Ridiculous.

Christina Lee said... interesting! And STUPID! And LOL, MATT!

Lydia Kang said...

Absolutely horrific if this does go through eventually. Kansas is not that far from where I live. *shudders*

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Sounds like a big mess overall.

Rachel said...

I agree with the Blond Duck's husband ... .


Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i just heard about this on the news and was flabbergasted. Surely they could've found something not as threatening to repeal?

Bonnie said...

This article makes me want to punch everyone in the face.
(Get the irony? I'm not funny.)
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That is sad. And I hope you're right, Slamdunk, about the city not ignoring domestic violence in the end. This isn't the 1800's. Woman now have rights (though they should have back then too).

BobKat said...

Excellent catch Slam!

I caught this event today also and found out they passed the bill.

I took note of your (activist side, quite impressed), but have to say you seem to have found solace in the fact that domestic violence is still illegal in County and state law. By doing so, you forget or ignore the obvious.

The City of Topeka, Kansas, it's true is short on money. It is also true their courts will no longer prosecute domestic violence crimes, which aren't now a city crime.

By doing so, even if one domestic abuse victim is hurt or killed, it's the state that will decide what gets investigated. Given the burden most states are under these days, I'd decline to agree that's a good thing.

What many may find as comforting, the city will still continue to prosecute and investigate violations of marijuana laws.

It goes to show you where our priorities are in government are these days. said...

The prosecutor "found" the money to prosecute the case.

Good call Slamdunk. :)

Mommy Lisa said...

Its all just the sad state of affairs of our economy. they say "occupy wall street" is inspired by the middle east uprisings, the difference being the world sees our government as a democracy, when we all know that our votes mean less than a goat herder's in afghanistan.

Maxi said...

As soon as the situation touches one of those city officials personally … the law will be repealed.

ZaSu Says said...

It's an epidemic. They're also (all over) closing prisons, overcrowding others, "furloughing" continues as does the extreme danger and deaths of those, like you, who choose to serve.
Where does justice live? Sometimes I think, only in Heaven.
Thanks for taking on the hard issues. God bless you!