legalize it

Topeka Gov’t Wonders, ‘Legalize It?’ About Domestic Violence

Many Americans have long argued that the decriminalization of certain routine behaviors would provide economic relief to local governments that spend gazillions of dollars throwing people in jail for doing things that really shouldn’t be such a big deal. Well, America, the great minds of Topeka, Kansas are finally listening: Possibly soon, recreational wife (or husband!) beating will be totally fine in the eyes of the law, because apparently no one can afford to prosecute that nonsense anymore.

Faced with their worst budget crises since the Great Depression, states and cities have resorted to increasingly desperate measures to cut costs. State and local governments have laid off teachers, slashed Medicaid funding, and even started unpaving roads and turning off streetlights.

But perhaps the most shocking idea to save money is being debated right now by the City Council of Topeka, Kansas. The city could repeal an ordinance banning domestic violence because some say the cost of prosecuting those cases is just too high:

Here’s what happened: Last month, the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office, facing a 10% budget cut, announced that the county would no longer be prosecuting misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, at the county level. Finding those cases suddenly dumped on the city and lacking resources of their own, the Topeka City Council is now considering repealing the part of the city code that bans domestic battery. [...]

Since the county stopped prosecuting the crimes on September 8th, it has turned back 30 domestic violence cases. Sixteen people have been arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery and then released from the county jail after charges weren’t filed.

And while not prosecuting domestic violence cases may seem to save money in the short term, it actually has staggering financial consequences. The health-related costs of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year. Nearly $4.1 billion of that is for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion are for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages. Victims lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence.

Victims might have lost some days of work, but what about their violent counterparts? Don’t they deserve jobs? They can’t run the family meth lab if they are in prison. [ThinkProgress/Feministing]

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Blair Burke obsessively follows Michelle Obama's every move and fashion decision for Wonkette's The FLOTUS Files feature, which appears here every Monday.

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166 comments

    1. Beowoof

      I would think legal weed would cut way down on the domestic violence. Its the beer causing the trouble.

    2. Callyson

      Sadly, I suspect the cost savings would not be as much. I could be wrong but I'm guessing there are more wife beaters than weed smokers out there…

    1. Steverino247

      Creeping Sharia make a wonderful "I'm Sorry I Beat the Shit Out of You" gift for your victim when you get out of jail. See your local florist!

    1. Jukesgrrl

      Kansas bases everything on the Bible. Except that pesky verse about doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. That's when they turn libertarian.

  1. GregComlish

    This is good news for that pirate-faced Republican ogre who beat the shit out of her husband with a wrench and then politely informed 911 that no law enforcement would be necessary!

    1. LettucePrey

      Well, to be fair, Topeka was kind of asking for it. After a long day at work, Topeka just makes me so mad sometimes.

  2. Goonemeritus

    As a man who has been hit by every woman I ever dated and stabbed by one I am dead set against this proposal.

      1. Goonemeritus

        I argue for sport, when I was dating crazy was a plus and many women don’t feel the same rules about never hitting apply to them. The stabbing thing was during my punk period the girl used Mop & Glow as her primary hair care product. Call it Stockholm syndrome if you want but boy I miss her.

        1. mayor_quimby

          Yeah, I had one x do a police style pit maneuver on my car when I broke up with her and she saw me with the new chick. I still got back with her later, water under the bridge, u know.
          Plus, she did things, let's leave it at that.

  3. DaRooster

    You know, instead of beating your wife/husband… tossing a dwarf is a great alternative. It gets rid of lots of angst.

  4. SexySmurf

    Stop blaming Topeka. It's usually really sweet, but it's facing budget cuts and stress at work. And it had been drinking, and it's citizens had been nagging it, so it's partially their fault. And it did buy them all flowers the next day, and promised not to do it ever again.

    1. Beowoof

      Will they repeal the law against beating up that crowd? That would leglslation I may even consider supporting.

  5. MissusBarry

    Alright, ladies of Topeka, time to stock up on cast iron frying pans! I'm particularly talking to you, wives and girlfriends of male city legislators. It's on, motherfuckers.

      1. widestanceshakedown

        That's not mistreatment–why else would that cow wear that bell if she wasn't asking for it?

  6. bureaucrap

    Indeed, why have any prosecutors or police at all? They just use up valuable munnies that the rich need to gold-plate the fixtures on their yachts. Which will be anchored offshore so that they will not get hit in the crossfire during the resulting war of all against all.

  7. baconzgood

    No snark on this comment from Baconz….I mean seriously, that's a pretty high fucking price to cut taxes. Not putting wife beater douche bags in jail (to be raped by some big biker) where they should be. It's just really really wrong. This is what we should be paying taxes for…You know to protect our womenfolk. Don't these assholes have sisters or mothers?

    1. poncho_pilot

      "Don't these assholes have sisters or mothers?"

      no, but they are motherfuckers who should be in jail with The Sisters and abusers.

    2. Beowoof

      As a dad of two daughters, I would dearly love to see these folks prosecuted and sent to jail. Jeebus I am too old these days to address the problem personally. And with my luck they would have lots of cash to prosecute me.

  8. SorosBot

    They're just trying to get some of that big show business money by convincing Mel Gibson and Chris Brown to move into town.

  9. ApplesauceRobot

    Still trying to get my head around the concept of unpaving roads as a money saver.

    Oh, and the men who decided to not prosecute wife beaters in Topeka can go to hell.

    1. comrad_darkness

      Are you kidding? That blacktop is made out of crude oil and rocks mixed together. It's not exactly cheap. Gravel is cheap as, well, dirt.

      1. ApplesauceRobot

        The way it was written makes it look as if they're going to "unpave" previously paved roads. Doesn't make much sense. Unbuilding the senate chamber, on the other hand…

        1. poncho_pilot

          Topeka going out of business sale! everything must go!

          sewer pipes? our deals won't drain your pocketbook!

          used blacktop? we're paving the way for low, low prices!

          riot gear? defend your home and look like an Imperial Storm Trooper! i'm not your father and you won't get spanked on these deals!

        2. Negropolis

          Even up here in Michigan where I live, some county road commissions are taking really shitty rural roads and "pulverizing" them because it's actually better on car suspensions that hitting potholes (but worse for paint jobs).

    2. Redhead

      By "unpaving," do they mean not paving roads as they need repairs/repaving/maintenance? Or do they mean actually going back and unpaving roads that have already been paved?

      1. Geminisunmars

        They mean pulling up the assfault and selling it to other, more aphluent communities, like Lawrence.

    3. starfanglednut

      I know. I thought taht was hilarious too. I can just picture a bunch of guys hacking up the pavement with pickaxes, and carting it away in wheelbarrows, to save money, yes indeedy.

    4. DashboardBuddha

      I would unpave roads in Sim City when things got tough. I never made any kind of violence legal though.

    5. Swampgas_Man

      If not repaving roads that need it is a money-saver, Pennsylvania would be the Billionaire State.

  10. chicken_thief

    Isn't Kansas the state that wrote the ungodly complex law requiring abortion clinics to meet certain criteria? And then set up, with new funding of course, a commission to oversee said asshat regulations? So they have the money to circumvent the Constitution, but not the money to protect their women…. except from themselves if the woman happens to make a choice they don't like. Makes perfect sense!

    1. SorosBot

      But opposing abortion rights is all about protecting the little blobs of identical cells, and not about keeping women down.

  11. NickDanger007

    They'd better repeal this or their behavior will make me teach them a lesson, those bitches!

  12. chicken_thief

    Does that apply just to residents or can you beat the shit out of your wife while just passing through?

    1. GunToting[Redacted]

      I think the most fucked up think about that photo is that the kitchen is FAR too nice for the scene. I mean, bruised woman, brutish thug in "wifebeater," both standing in a modern kitchen with a central island? Do they have those in trailers?

      1. poncho_pilot

        what stood out for me was that if you need a stock photo about domestic violence, hey they got that one covered. which dovetails nicely with what you've pointed out: the island? maybe it was supposed to be a metaphor for what abused women go through? no. i doubt that. must've been an odd photo shoot. it looks like a magazine photo. The L.L Bean Wife Beaters' Collection.

          1. poncho_pilot

            the reality of anything horrible can be mitigated in our minds by turning it into a nice looking picture. hang it up in a museum and people can discuss it whilst eating cheese and drinking box wine. maybe they're selling prints in the lobby?

            of course, making jokes about something horrific can have the same effect. it's hard to know when someone is laughing to cope with the horror or if they really think beating women is funny.

    1. elviouslyqueer

      /snark off

      Unfortunately, most jurisdictions class DV as a misdemeanor, but that depends on the level of assault severity and, honestly, on the whims of the prosecutor. Complicating matters even further is something I personally consider rather totally and utterly fucked up: often in domestic cases it may appear that two or more people were committing domestic violence towards each other. In these cases the officer must determine who is the primary aggressor, and may look at such factors as the history of domestic abuse between the parties, the severity of injuries inflicted on each person, evidence from the persons involved and witnesses, and whether anyone acted in self-defense.

      (I work in the field of DV research, so the kind of "We can't afford to prosecute, so we'll just pretend like it doesn't exist" mentality that Topeka is using isn't really surprising to me, but it's still profoundly disappointing and disturbing.)

      1. Redhead

        Then, too, you've got the fact that many victims of DV call the cops while it's happening because they just want it to stop and that's the only way they know how. But once the aggressor is gets back from jail and starts the "You know I didn't mean it baby, it was just that your shirt was so low that it made me jealous, but only because I love you, and so don't you see I HAD to hit you to make sure no other guy hurt you" crap, the victim decides to drop any charges and quit cooperating with police. And usually, there's not enough evidence that police can really go forward with the case and make charges stick without the cooperation of the victim (if there IS outside evidence – like a doctor testifying to injuries that couldn't have been caused by anything other than being hit- then usually it's to the point of being a felony charge anyway). Police end up making a lot of calls to the same homes over and over for the same types of stuff because of that cycle and the victim not wanting to press charges, once the terror of the moment is gone (and buying into the "I'm sorry I'll never do it again" crap). So there's that.

        But still.

    1. Negropolis

      Ha! "Chess match" my ass. They are lucky if they have the intellectual capacity to play a game of checkers.

  13. prommie

    They could fall back on the old rule, what was it, you could beat your wife, but you couldn't use a stick that was larger in circumference than your thumb? Now thats a reasonable compromise.

    1. Geminisunmars

      Perhaps if they changed that to "no longer than your dick" we might see some improvement.

  14. widestanceshakedown

    The bronze statue of Ike Turner in front of the courthouse is still under review, since many fear it will encourage youngsters toward the black lifestyle.

  15. chicken_thief

    In other Topeka news, it has been reported that the new Women's Self-Defence Clinic owned by City Councilman Joe "Thumper" Wilkinson and Lorena Bobbitt is doing a thriving business. The Welcome Wagon also greeted new resident OJ Simpson who was quoted as saying that he looks forward to a life without prosecution in the great city of Topeka.

  16. paris biltong

    Their cost analysis is all wrong. What they need is to tax sexual intercourse between spouses (parking-meter like devices in appropriate places would be easy to install) and then they can use the money collected to prosecute the spouse beaters. Win-win as this doesn't take the bread out of the mouths of attorney's children.

  17. Redhead

    Well, I'm sure after the beater gets arrested and then released (probably still drunk, mind you) there will be absolutely NO retaliation and absolutely NO escalation and he (or she) will absolutely NOT do anything that would bump it up to felony assault/attempted murder/murder-suicide, etc. Assuming those are actually still worth prosecuting.

    Great job, geniuses. All of you. Really. Must have been beat on the head one too many times as babies.

    1. poncho_pilot

      "and for my next trick, i'll use Grindr to announce an upcoming anti-gay protest. God Hates Fags™!"

      what a bunch of maroons.

  18. ThundercatHo

    Speaking as a former battered wife I am in full support of not putting the wife beaters in jail (since they are just released within 24 hrs anyway). Give the police permission to just shoot the motherfuckers on the spot. Bullets are cheap. Abusers are worthless scum. Problem solved. Oh, and btw, I think there may be some fairly major financial and emotional costs involved for the children of domestic violence as well.

  19. gurukalehuru

    Apparently, Kansas got tired of Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma and Nevada taking home all the purty ribbons from the twice monthly stupidest state contests.

  20. KathrynSane

    I first read about this last night and I am still so sad and pissed and offended and dumbstruck that I don't even know what to say. No snark. This is awful and a perfect example of how way too many of our public officials just do not give two shits about women (that is if they don't straight-up hate them).

  21. PuckStopsHere

    "Life, Liberty. and the Pursuit of Happiness" applies to wife-beaters, too! It's in the Constitution, people!

  22. Callyson

    To Thomas Frank:
    THIS is what's the matter with Kansas.
    Where is Good Witch Glinda when we need her?

  23. Clungeflaps

    Yay, I'm from Topeka! I grew up going to high school with the Westboro baptist church protesting outside (and one of the kids was actually in my senior year english class).

    I live very very far from there now, whenever I go back it's eerie and depressing, it's kind of a ghost town with empty streets and pro-life billboards. I have no idea why my dad still lives there, he hates it.

  24. MistaEko

    But we're still spending the money to regulate abortion clinics into the ground, right? OK. You had me nervous there.

  25. snarkycomments

    So, in Topeka, if a man throws his pregnant wife down the stairs and she has a miscarriage, can you at least prosecute him for performing an illegal abortion?

  26. Negropolis

    And, in other local news, today, Kansas burned a witch.

    What's the matter with Kansas, indeed.

    BTW, I hear that Topeka is a shitty, shitty, shitty-assed city, even by Kansas standards. A lot of the towns in the old West still look like frontier towns.

  27. GOPCrusher

    According to the TeaTards, if you think you should pay more taxes, then nothing is stopping you from sending the government a check for any amount you want.

  28. emmelemm

    I'm still on the fence about the claim that Westboro Church is a really, really, really deep liberal plant. (Whatever you call that when one side pretends to be the other side and does something super ridiculous to make the other side look bad.) It almost could be true.

  29. mrblifil

    Well, their view of rape is that the victim was asking for it by acting all slutty. Also a fair number of them are fucking their own daughters, so no, not real motivated to enact protections.

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