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US city might decriminalise domestic violence amid cuts

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Summary of story from Feministing, October 5, 2011

The city of Topeka, Kansas, debated on October 4 whether to repeal the part of the city’s code that bans domestic battery amid budget cuts affecting all levels of US government.

Though the city considers tackling domestic violence a priority, it’s trying to force Shawnee County to prosecute the cases.

Last month, facing a 10 per cent budget cut, the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office said it will stop prosecuting misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, at the county level. The decision left Topeka with too many cases and not enough resources.

The city hopes that Shawnee County will not allow domestic violence to go unpunished, and thus it can force the county to continue prosecuting.

Since the Shawnee County stopped prosecuting misdemeanors, it has turned away 30 domestic violence cases. A further 16 people arrested for domestic battery were released from county jail after their charges weren’t filed.

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

Topeka’s city council is expected to make a final decision by next week.

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