Massachusetts recorded 39 domestic violence-related deaths as of last week, putting the state on track to set a grim 12-year milestone, reports the Boston Herald. 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. “It's absolutely alarming to see the rates of homicides associated with domestic violence skyrocketing,” said state Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, a board member at Refuge Education Advocacy Change in Waltham, a domestic violence service agency.
Advocates, law enforcement, and state officials cited a clogged domestic violence emergency shelter system that leaves a mere 376 beds funded by the state set aside for families who wish to escape a batterer and scarce affordable housing opportunities for people wishing to move out of shelters. Critics also pointed to a disjointed state funding system for domestic violence shelter and support services that is spread over at least four state agencies. The criminal justice system relies heavily on victims to protect themselves through restraining orders or police action. A national victims' advocacy group says conditions in Massachusetts are reaching the crisis level.