We're in the midst of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and last night city officials in Topeka, Kansas marked the occasion by decriminalizing domestic violence. Their intent is actually to make sure that the cases will be prosecuted properly, not to encourage citizens to beat their spouses with impunity. However, the political maneuver has already let dozens of abusers off the hook and put their victims' lives in danger.
As we discussed earlier, officials from the city of Topeka and Shawnee County are currently engaged in a game of chicken over who's responsible for prosecuting domestic violence cases. When the county's budget was slashed by 10%, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's solution was to stop prosecuting misdemeanors in Topeka's city limits. He hoped to force the city to pick up the cost of the cases, and noted, "of greatest concern are domestic violence cases." It seems Taylor thought the city might ignore minor drug or assault cases, but wouldn't simply refuse to deal with something as serious as domestic abuse. Yet, last night city officials called his bluff and repealed its law against domestic violence.