Despite more than a decade of research into the causes of domestic-violence fatalities, Washington state’s criminal-justice system is still failing abuse victims with inconsistent and at times lax enforcement of laws intended to protect them, says a Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence study reported by the Seattle Times.
The report details in-depth reviews of 84 cases in which 135 people died, including some instances of homicide-suicide – cases when abusers killed victims as well as themselves. In 48 of those 84 cases, police had previously responded to a domestic-violence call. Only five cases resulted in abusers spending 30 days or more in jail, showing a need for more dependable enforcement of state anti-domestic-violence laws, said Jake Fawcett, the report’s author. “When victims don’t know what to expect, it’s harder for victims to count on the systems to intervene,” Fawcett said. In 24 of the cases, an abuse victim had asked a court for a protection order. But in nearly every case, the victim hadn’t received follow-up help from a domestic-violence advocate to create a “safety plan” to protect themselves.