Budget battle leads Kansas town to repeal domestic violence law
Domestic violence is no longer a municipal crime in Topeka, Kansas, the latest casualty in budget wars going on at all levels of government.
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Budget battles are raging across the country, but one commuity in Kansas has repealed its domestic violence law in order to save money.
If that sounds crazy, the situation in Topeka, Kan., the state capitol, actually gets weirder.
Earlier this year, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said he'd stop prosecuting misdemeanor crimes in the city of Topeka if the county commission followed through with a plan to cut his budget by 10 percent. They did, and he wasn't bluffing, arguing that the municipal prosecutors in Topeka should be responsible for all misdemeanors in Topeka, including a certain level of domestic violence offenses. Taylor stopped prosecuting those cases last month, but the Topeka prosecutor declined to take them on as well.
Since then 20 accused domestic violence perpetrators have been let out of jail when no one would file chargers. The city, the district attorney and the county all blame each other, but on Tuesday night, the dispute came to a head, when the Topeka City Commission voted to remove domestic violence as a crime in their city.
The idea was if it's not a crime in Topeka, then the district attorney's office will have to take the cases. Taylor agrees, begrudgingly, said Tim Hrenchir, a reporter for The Topeka Capital-Journal.
"There were budget problems, but the sense is that each group having a problem is dumping it on someone else," Hrenchir said.
But negotiations between all three parties are continuing, Hrenchir says.
Victims and their families just want them to figure it out. And fast.
"They're saying 'it's not right to not prosecute domestic abusers.' A lot are saying we don't care how you solve it, just solve it," Hrenchir said.
The Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, a Republican, says the issue is a local one and he sees no reason for the state government to step in at this time.
Hrenchir says that the situation bears continued watching over the next few weeks.
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