Domestic violence continues to plague far too many homes even as crime rates outside the home continue to decline. Worse, many of the perpetrators are repeat offenders who escape the harsh punishment they deserve.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wants elected officials to give him and his colleagues the tools they need to crack down on serial abusers inside the home. Writing in the Daily News, Mr. Vance noted that a recent defendant in a domestic violence case had more than 100 prior convictions. Some of those convictions were for drug offenses, but many others were for physical attacks on his girlfriends through the years.
Why is this individual still on the loose? Mr. Vance pointed out that many domestic violence cases are treated as misdemeanors, meaning, as he put it, that a “punch to the face month after month is the same level crime as not paying a subway fare.” The penalty for misdemeanors is the same, regardless of how many times the crime is perpetrated.
If society is serious about protecting spouses, partners and children from domestic abuse, it can no longer allow perpetrators to continue their violence virtually unabated. Mr. Vance correctly believes that serial abuse should be treated as a felony. It’s incredible that this is not the case already.
“Not only do repeat domestic violence offenders face minimal jail time, but many will never be prosecuted at all,” Mr. Vance wrote. This is a sad, tragic state of affairs. Albany needs to change this, fast.