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Domestic Violence Epidemic: Local judges consider domestic violence court

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POSTED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 5:58pm

UPDATED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 6:36pm

Domestic violence rates in Baton Rouge are so high. The district attorney said domestic violence is an epidemic.

Local judges and the District Attorney are said, it's so bad. They're working to put together a special court that would only deal with domestic violence cases.

One-third of all criminal cases in East Baton Rouge Parish involve domestic violence.

She has been talking with survivors of domestic violence about the problem and what's being proposed to address it.

Abuse victims said it's about time. The DA said a laser focus on domestic violence will help "protect" some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Domestic violence is one of the biggest crimes impacting baton rouge, and all too often troubles at home turn deadly. Suzanne Henson has been recovering from her brutal attack for the past four months.

"I was beat, sodomized, raped, kicked, bruises all over my body. That was it, I knew if I didn't get away the next time he would probably kill me," Henson said.

Local judges and DA Hillar Moore said, 30% of all criminal cases here are related to domestic violence. They want a special court that only focuses on these types of cases.

Suzanne said she's lucky. The man who attacked her is in jail, but she blames an overloaded court system for many violent people getting out of jail before they should.

"A lot of men are just getting a little slap on the wrist, 30 days in jail, 90 days in jail," Henson explained.

A domestic violence court would allow a judge to focus on just domestic violence cases. Judy Benitez overseas the Iris Domestic Violence Center. She said this will help save lives.

"The benefit of having a designated domestic violence court is that that gives the judge all of the information about what is going on with this offender, and they review all of that before they make critical decisions," Benitez said.

Benitez said a domestic violence court is just the first step in stopping this epidemic.

"But we really need a wide variety of reproaches because you have to have a lot of tools in the tool kit because offenders are very creative and they can figure out how to get around a lot of things," Benitez said.

Moore said the domestic violence court is a priority, but it could take a year to get it operational.

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