Virginia Prosecutors No Longer Assigned to Some Domestic Violence Cases
As state legislatures struggle to balance their budgets in the face of a nationwide, cumulative deficit of $40 billion and the worst budget crisis since World War II, domestic violence victims in states such as Virginia are the ones paying the price. Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant announced late last month that prosecutors will no longer handle misdemeanor domestic violence cases. As of early December, victims of domestic violence must go it alone in court.
“I deeply regret that the victims of domestic abuse will not have a prosecutor on their side, while the defendants will be able to retain their own attorneys or have attorneys appointed for them if they are considered indigent,” Bryant said in a statement, as reported in The Virginian-Pilot.
Misdemeanor domestic violence cases involve the use, or attempted use, of physical force (simple assault, assault and battery). In what is commonly known as the cycle of violence, domestic abuse often starts out with incidents reported as misdemeanor cases and spirals into more serious incidents – about 1 in 5 women victimized by their spouse or ex-spouse report that they were the victim of a series of similar crimes and sustained at least three assaults within six months, according to the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women.
Bryant told The Pilot that his office prosecutes approximately 2,000 of these cases each year. Statewide, domestic violence hotlines in Virginia respond to approximately 21,000 calls from family violence victims this year, and an additional 21,000 calls from friends, family members and professionals working with victims. Shelters provided safe refuge for 3,756 women and 3,636 children for an average stay of nearly three weeks at a time. However, 4,706 families who request shelter are turned away – or 56 percent of the total number of families seeking shelter.
Media Resources: New York Times 12/19/02; Boston Globe 12/15/02; The Virginian Pilot 11/23/02; National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women: Domestic Violence Statistics
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .