As part of special training on domestic violence, Lauderdale County deputies learned about a new law in Mississippi. Under the old law, all parties involved in a domestic dispute could be arrested when officers responded to a call. Under the new law officers must arrest only the "PRIMARY" aggressor. This comes as a welcomed change to victims' advocates such as Leslie Payne with the Care Lodge.
"That way the victim is not victimized in the process," said Payne.
Although good, local law enforcement officials say more changes are needed. As it stands, a third domestic violence conviction is considered a felony. This means it carries tougher penalties. However, law enforcement officials say too often, those charges don't make it to that point.
"For whatever reason, the charge is amended," said Sheriff Billy Sollie of Lauderdale County. "The charge never reaches that third time."
"They know if they do that six months, that's it," said Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell of Lauderdale County. "If they can keep clean that six months they can do it again."
Attorney Kenny Griffis, a candidate for the third district of the Mississippi Court of Appeals, said the solution is consistency within the court system.
"We need proper adjudication of cases," said Griffis. "Make sure the punishments are fair and can be enforced. The accused have a right to a fair trial, but we as judges can't lose sight that the victim's have rights too."
Meanwhile, Care Lodge officials say the key to curbing domestic violence is punishment.
"I have worked in this field ten years," said Payne. "Batterers don't change."
To find out more about the Care Lodge, call <(601) 693-HOPE.
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Fast Facts About National Domestic Violence
- In 92 percent of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women.
- Forty percent of teenage girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
- The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.4 million adults are stalked annually in the United States.
- Family violence costs the nation from $5 to $10 billion annually in medical expenses, police and court costs, shelters and foster care, sick leave, absenteeism, and non-productivity.
- Husbands and boyfriends commit 13,000 acts of violence against women in the workplace every year.
- The majority of welfare recipients have experienced domestic abuse in their adult lives and a high percentage are currently abused.
- 31,260 women were murdered by an intimate from 1976-1996.
- In 1996, among all female murder victims in the U.S., 30 percent were slain by their husbands or boyfriends.
- While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.
Source: http://www.ndvh.org/ndvh2.html ( National Domestic Violence Hotline Web Site)