Topeka, Kansas, Is a Domestic-Violence Free-Fire Zone

Too cheap to prosecute domestic abusers, the DA sends them home.

The Westboro Baptist Church—of God Hates fame—is headquartered in Topeka, Kansas. Coincidentally? Or indicatively? (Photo: Richard Carson/Reuters)

Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which makes it the month when savvy domestic violence practitioners become aware that Topeka, Kansas, is their kind of town. Blaming budget cuts, the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office announced on September 8 that it would no longer prosecute misdemeanors in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 16 people arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery since September 8 have been released from Shawnee County Jail with no charges filed.

Despite an apparent bent for unilateral decision-making that imperils one of his community’s most vulnerable populations, Taylor is open to negotiation.

The lack of prosecutorial zeal stems from slashes the Shawnee County Commission made in August to District Attorney Chad Taylor’s 2012 budget. Taylor’s spending for next year will be cut by 10 percent, slicing $347,765 from his 2011 budget of $3,477,651. Taylor’s office adapted to being left with only $3,129,886 for 2012 by preemptively taking itself off all misdemeanor crimes for the rest of 2011.

Despite an apparent bent for unilateral decision-making that imperils one of his community’s most vulnerable populations, Taylor is open to negotiation. His office has presented an offer to “review for potential prosecution” all misdemeanor cases filed within the city of Topeka—in exchange for a one-time $350,000 shakedown payment from the city.

Something seems to have gone wrong in the state of Kansas. Who do you think would be more outraged by the tempest in Topeka? Tea Party? Or Occupy Wall Street?

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