Cash-Strapped Topeka May Stop Prosecuting Domestic Violence

Funding spat has allowed offenders to walk

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Kansas town claims it can't afford to prosecute domestic violence cases.

    Cash-strapped Topeka, Kansas, has decided to stop prosecuting domestic violence casses in order to save money.

    The City Council announced the proposal Oct. 4, after the Shawnee County District Attorney's office announced it could no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases. The city's maneuver may even require repealing the part of the city code that bans domestic battery. Mayor Bill Bunten told the Topeka Capital-Journal city officials take domestic violence seriously, and it would be "dead wrong" to assume offenders won't be prosecuted. But the dispute is over who would pay for it, he said.

    Shawnee County has already dropped 30 domestic violence cases since it stopped prosecuting the crime on Sept. 8. Some 16 people have been arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery charges and then released after charges were not filed.

    County District Attorney Chad Taylor has reportedly offered to review all misdemeanor cases filed in Topeka for potential prosecution, including those now handled by the city's municipal court, in exchange for a one-time payment of $350,000 from the city.

    The Topeka YWCA said the problem must be resolved.

    "When an abusive partner is arrested, the victim's danger level increases," Becky Dickinson, interim director of the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment, told the Capital-Journal. "The abuser will often become more violent in an attempt to regain control. Letting abusive partners out of jail with no consequences puts victims in incredibly dangerous positions."