CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mass Domestic Violence Related Death Rise for Many Reasons

The murder of Massachusetts mother Elizabeth Cann by her ex-boyfriend last week was the 39th domestic violence-related death in Massachusetts this year, putting the state on track to set a grim 12-year milestone. If the violence continues at its current pace, Jane Doe Inc., a statewide coalition against domestic and sexual violence, estimates another 17 people will die before the end of year.

In more than a dozen interviews with the Herald, advocates, law enforcement and state officials said the following factors are fueling the bloodshed:

  • A clogged domestic violence emergency shelter system that leaves a mere 376 beds funded by the state Department of Social Services set aside for families who wish to escape a batterer and scarce affordable housing opportunities for people wishing to move out of shelters. The state Department of Transitional Assistance also funds shelter beds.
  • A disjointed state funding system for domestic violence shelter and support services that is spread over at least four state agencies
  • Understaffed anti-domestic-violence programs that have scaled back on community and legal advocacy, preventative programs, clinical services and financial and housing assistance for victims
  • A criminal justice system that relies heavily on victims to protect themselves through restraining orders or police action
  • Gaps in training on domestic violence for veteran police officers
  • A reduction in batterers’ programs statewide from 24 to 17 in five years due to low referral rates.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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