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Wed October 12, 2011
Topeka Domestic Abuse Cases Go Unprosecuted
By Stephen Koranda, Kansas Public Radio
TOPEKA, Ks. – The Topeka City Council has repealed a city ordinance outlawing domestic battery. It's the latest in an ongoing dispute between the city and county over who should prosecute the crimes.
Council members who voted to repeal the ordinance say it puts the city in a better position to negotiate with the district attorney.
"I'm in favor of the repealling," says Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten. "I think it does nothing but strengthen our position to try to resolve this, which I assure all of you will occur."
Because of budget cuts, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor has stopped prosecuting any misdemeanor crimes committed in the city limits, including domestic battery. The city says they also don't have the money to handle the cases.
Opponents told the council that repealing the domestic abuse ordinance sends a bad message and is a step in the wrong direction.
"I understand that you feel forced to act, but repealling this ordinance is not an effective reaction," said Amber Versola, with the Kansas branch of the National Organization for Women. "[But] what it does is remove a tool from your belt that you may find yourself needing further down the line."
There are still state laws that bar domestic battery, but the disagreement between the city and county means some people arrested in Topeka are not being charged with crimes. So far, at least 18 people arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery have been set free without facing charges.