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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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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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