As we celebrate all the things we’re thankful for this week, I’m adding this fact to my lists: I don’t live in Topeka, Kansas.
Why is that a good thing? Well, this week they officially repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.
(If you’d like the New York Times story on the issue: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/us/topeka-moves-to-decriminalize-domestic-violence.html )
It came to head over money. (As so many things do.) And, due to budget cuts — that weren’t even going to take effect for a year — the District Attorney stopped prosecuting misdemeanors and was focusing on only felonies. And as such, since September, 18 people have been arrested for domestic violence in Topeka…but not a single one faced charges, and they were all just let free to go.
The city council rationalized their decision by saying they made the move so the cases would then be forced to handled. But now at a state level.
Generally, this whole story is full of lots of finger pointing, lots of responsibility shifting, and lots of excuses. But not a lot of humanity.
What of the victims (mostly women and children)? What of their right to safety? Who will help protect them when the police can’t? Who will now be responsible for the programs who support victims of domestic violence?
More specifically, what happens to the 18 families who asked for help…only to find the offenders back inside their houses before the bruises even had a chance to surface? My guess is they now live in more fear and danger than ever before…after being failed by the exact people who are supposed to help them. What of the so many other victims who need protection, but will now certainly never ask?
It’s a horrifically terrifying reality for so many. One I am thankful I don’t have to face. And one I am so sorry the people of Topeka now do.