Las Vegas Judge Melissa Saragosa is on the cutting edge of a criminal justice strategy to curb one of Nevada's biggest evils, the endless cycle of domestic violence, reports the Las Vegas Sun. Saragosa volunteered in January to preside over the state's only court to specialize in domestic violence, cases previously spread among nine of her colleagues. Judges hope that having one specialize in these cases, with a focus on getting abusers counseling they need, will have the same success other specialty courts in Nevada have had with substance abuse offenders or those with mental health issues.
Saragosa says it's too early to tell whether her court will succeed in reducing recidivism, but she says it has been worth the effort, and she sees signs that offenders have been receptive to what she's trying to accomplish. Nevada had the nation's highest rate of women murdered by men in 2008, says the advocacy group Violence Policy Center. “For courts to lower that statistic, we need to look at how we handle domestic violence,” Saragosa said. “Is there something we're not doing that we should be doing to prevent repeat offenders?”