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Topeka, Kansas Considering Decriminalizing Domestic Violence due to Budget Cuts

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Topeka, the capital city of Kansas, is considering decriminalizing domestic violence.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, budget cuts at the county level have led the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office to stop prosecuting misdemeanors. That means that the city of Topeka has been swamped with misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases. Overwhelmed, the City Council met to debate repealing the portion of the city code that bans domestic battery. According to Feministing, the city is playing a game of “chicken” with the county, figuring that if Topeka stops prosecuting domestic violence cases Shawnee County will be forced to do so.

Shawnee County stopped prosecuting domestic battery cases on September 8th. Since then, the county District Attorney’s office has shockingly rejected 30 such cases, sending a very dangerous message to would-be batterers that they can commit their crimes with impunity. Also, 16 people arrested for domestic battery have been released from the county jail because no charges were filed against them. Again, this practically gives a green light to batterers to do their worst– so long as they don’t cross the line into felony territory.

“Letting abusive partners out of jail with no consequences puts victims in incredibly dangerous positions,” Becky Dickinson of the YWCA told the Capital-Journal. “The abuser will often become more violent in an attempt to regain control.”

A decision on this grave matter is expected from the City Council in the coming week.

UPDATE: On Monday, October 11, the Topeka City Council voted to decriminalize domestic violence. But District Attorney Chad Taylor also announced that his office will resume prosecuting domestic violence cases.

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