Topeka Decriminalizes Domestic Violence

City says it can't afford prosecutions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2011 6:02 AM CDT
Updated Oct 12, 2011 7:50 AM CDT
Topeka Decriminalizes Domestic Violence
Protesters gather outside the Shawnee County Courthouse over a decision by District Attorney Chad Taylor to stop pursuing domestic violence and other misdemeanor cases.   (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Domestic abuse suspects are walking free in northeast Kansas because different arms of government can't agree on who should pay for their prosecution. Last night, Topeka's city council took the startling step of repealing the local law that makes domestic violence a crime, the New York Times reports. The move is aimed at making sure the city isn't stuck with the bill for domestic violence cases, which councilors say the county will now have to prosecute under state law—but the county DA, citing budget shortfalls, stopped pursuing domestic assault and other misdemeanor cases a month ago. “We had hoped that he would not put that group of victims at risk, that he would find some other way to absorb the cuts,” said a county official.

"I absolutely do not understand it," the director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said after the vote. "It's really outrageous that they're playing with family safety to see who blinks first. People could die while they're waiting to straighten this out." Since early September, there have been at least 35 reported incidents of domestic battery or assault and 18 suspects have been freed without charge because the cases against them were not pursued, the AP finds. (More Topeka, Kansas stories.)

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