Sunday, September 17, 2006

“that piece of paper won’t keep you safe”

JusticeAn interesting article about the headaches prosecutors have getting victims to follow domestic violence cases through to to end. Domestic violence cases often a challenge to prosecute | LJWorld.com

Relationships are complex, and so, as a direct result, are domestic violence cases. But when people complain that the system can't keep them safe, they have to realize what the system sees.

First off, don't give the bastard any acknowledgment.
The main point of it was this: Don’t give him any sense of satisfaction for his efforts. Never answer his calls, even if it’s one out of 50 or one in 100.

Eventually, he’ll look for someone else. Have a plan in place for personal safety, and try not to go out alone.
Of course they don't go into personal safety. My views are well known.

But prosecutors have trouble because charges are dropped, the victims refuse to testify, and ask for "no contact" orders to be lifted. If you don't help the system, don't expect that it will be able to keep you safe. A nice statement on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a court order -
“Unfortunately, law enforcement can’t keep you safe. You get your restraining order; that piece of paper won’t keep you safe,” [Kemple, 45, the local prosecutor who specializes in domestic violence crimes] said. “You need to be really, really smart.”
I am firmly opposed to blaming the victim in most cases. But I will make an exception. If you drop charges, ignore the terms of a restraining order and see your ex even though they have proven to be violent in the past, then you bear some of the responsibility for what happens. If someone hits me - the first time it may be a sucker punch. But there will only ever be one "first time." Then the next time I see that person they are automatically assigned to the Threat Category. Any move on their part that could be construed as a reasonable threat of violence (death or grave bodily injury violence) will be dealt with accordingly, and in compliance with Florida law. (That is I will blow their fucking head off.)
Two or three times per month, Kemple said, a victim drops by — most commonly to try to have charges dropped.
Since these cases NEVER end with an apology, dropping charges is tantamount to agreeing to what comes next. It isn't your fault if he hits you. It is your fault if you stick around after that.

Just one example of the kinds of thing prosecutors have to deal with.
At 2:23 p.m., Kemple called a victim to the witness stand in a different case. According to a police report, she and her ex-boyfriend got in a physical fight in July after the man had stayed out all night and she told him to pack his bags. At the time, Officer Larry Hamilton testified, the woman told police he had flicked a lighted cigarette at her, pushed her onto the bed, slapped and struck her, choked her for about 20 seconds and said, “I’ll kill you.” She even gave a written statement to police at the time that described much of the incident.

But in court, she testified that she didn’t remember what happened — just that they had a fight. Looking at the written statement, she admitted it was hers but said she didn’t remember the events.
This case is not going to end here. He will most likely attack her again, and the next time he chokes her it may be until she is dead.

Just what more do you think the police, the courts, "The System" can do for this woman?

Victims are not to blame for the actions of criminals, but you are responsible for the consequences of the actions you do take. There is damn little the system can do, and if you sabotage its efforts to do that much, you are on your own. If you let an abuser get off this time, who are you going to blame when it happens again?

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