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.