An article about Iowa’s state coalitions helping sexual assault and domestic violence victims highlights some of the differences between law enforcement and criminal justice system response in urban and rural areas. In discussing the budget and service problems with state representatives, CAASA representatives said that the state’s court system is lacking:
“Des Moines calls our judges up in this area ‘the Iowa black hole,'” said one of the representatives.
While court trainings are held locally, the women told Johnson, Kibbie and May that nobody attends them. The women advocates also asked that greater penalties and enforcement be implemented at the state level. As Taylor told them that animals are more valued in this state than domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, Dean said, “If (Atlanta Falcons player) Michael Vick would have been abusing his wife, he’d still be in the NFL today.” The former football player, who plead guilty to federal dogfighting charges, was sentenced to 23 months in a U.S. penitentiary in December.
“You talk about county attorneys who have a split office. We have more county attorneys that that’s all they do now than we did 20 years ago — and most of them have an assistant county attorney and they have three times as many office staff as they did 20 years ago. Why aren’t they doing their jobs,” Sen. Kibbie asked.
“That would be the question of the day — or the week,” one of the CAASA representatives replied.
……..The area legislators were also told the difference between response to domestic violence and sexual assault incidents in the urban and rural parts of Iowa is “night and day,” with officials in urban areas being “more responsive.”
Does your rural area have a history of inconsistent and inadequate response by law enforcement and district attorney offices than in other areas of your state? Do your advocacy programs struggle to develop and maintain collaborative responses from teams that include local law enforcement, victim assistants, county attorneys, local judges and the district attorney? Does the pattern of response change depending on who is elected to be sheriff or DA?
Why do you think these rural officials feel they do not have to be as responsive to women victims as they would be expected to in urban areas?
We welcome your comments.