What’s Going on in Topeka?

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 By Hanna Munin

A lot of people have seen in the news this past week about how Topeka, Kansas just repealed their law on domestic battery. NPR, Nightly News with Brian Williams, and the Huffington Post all talked about the shocking issue. I decided to look into the issue to see if it was really what it sounded like: that it was legal to abuse your spouse in Topeka. That’s false; I wanted to write a piece to clarify why this repeal was done and what we can learn from the repeal. Last Tuesday, October 11, was when city officials of Topeka sat down to discuss budget cuts. Like many cities in the U.S., Topeka is suffering from a small city budget. Domestic violence cases are actually very expensive. They require family services, victim support, and court services; all of these services are costs that the city of Topeka cannot afford at the moment. So by repealing that law, all domestic violence and domestic battery cases get turned over to the District Attorney to deal with rather than the city, also domestic violence becomes a misdemeanor crime rather than a felony under city law.

The response to the repeal was massive. People nationwide got extremely upset and felt that the repeal sends the wrong message. If someone were to just look at the headlines and not read into the information, they would think that the abuse was okay and nothing would stop them from beating their partner in Topeka. Also, this repeal sends the wrong message to victims that there is no reason for them to call the police because their case will only be a misdemeanor and nothing will be done for them.

The city manager of Topeka, Dan Stanley, sat down with Robert Siegel on NPR and clarified what this really meant. Stanley said that if a woman called 911 and said that her husband was attacking her, he would be taken into custody for 48 hours for a “cooling off period” and then be released. Then the question becomes if the district attorney would prosecute them. Siegel also interviewed Chad Taylor, district attorney for Shawnee County, and he said that he would do all he could for these cases and hopes to get the funds from the legislative bodies.

So basically what we learn from this is that domestic violence is still an issue and that the efforts to come together and raise awareness about domestic violence can’t stop here. This repeal should not make us give up for victims of domestic violence, but to work even harder to help out as much as we can in our community to end domestic violence. If you want to read or listen to the NPR interview you can find it here.

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