Friday, February 27, 2009

As the Economy Turns Down...

Other issues arise, as we know. We have heard a lot about people losing their houses, or losing their jobs. Those are terrible times through which to live. Anyone who has ever lost a job, or been laid off, or even fired, knows how frustrating, scary, and anxiety-producing that can be, much less to lose the roof over one's head.

But there is one issue that is not getting a lot of media attention as the economy continues to decline, and that is this: domestic violence is on the rise. Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are on the rise, and there is a correlation to the financial situation within the home.

The state in which I live, South Carolina, has the unfortunate statistic of now being second - SECOND - in the country for domestic violence deaths. It is a sad move up from seventh in the nation.

Which brings me to this unfortunate affect of the economy as reported in a local paper here. Apparently, because of losses of revenues in the two counties this paper serves, funds for prosecutors of domestic violence cases and DUIs are in serious danger. State lawmakers are looking to cut these positions to save money. According to the article:
Perhaps most affected by the change will be criminal domestic violence incidents. Several times a month, Charleston County cases are heard in a centralized magistrate's court in North Charleston.

Advocates say the court is effective because sentences can be tailored to require offenders to report back regularly to discuss their progress as they seek counseling.

If the positions are lost, it doesn't mean that prosecutions will come to a standstill. But it will mean prosecutors specifically assigned to pursue these crimes will disappear. In CDV court, law enforcement officials would become the prosecutors, instead of an experienced attorney.

As someone who has done a lot of work in the field of domestic violence, I can tell you from experience that having seasoned prosecutors, people who know the ins and outs of how offenders operate, and what it takes to keep the victim safe, are incredibly important when these cases come to court.

Sadly, as long as the economy continues its downward slide, it seems women, and children, will bear the brunt in more ways than one. And at the time when they need help the most, that help is being taken from them by budget shortfalls. Not just in states, but at organizations like the National Domestic Hotline. While calls have increased, donations have decreased. As a result, they are projecting that 44,000 calls could go unanswered if they are unable to meet their necessary budget goals.

This is a difficult time in the country. American citizens are losing their homes and their livelihoods. Sadly, some are also losing their lives. Who will help them? Who will speak for them?

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