In a startling move Tuesday, the City Council of Topeka, Kan., voted 7 to 3 to repeal the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.
The vote is being called a cost-cutting measure, as neither the City Council nor the district attorney wants to foot the bill to prosecute the cases.
But if Topeka thinks the costs of domestic abuse will go away if it stops prosecuting, it is sure to be wrong. In the most comprehensive study to date on the costs of domestic violence to the U.S. economy, the Centers for Disease Control found in 2003 that the total cost each year is more than $8.3 billion.
That number included the costs of medical care, mental health services and lost productivity. Some of the other scary numbers:
— Cost of direct medical and mental health services needed: $4.1 billion.
— Part of that which is medically treated injuries: $2.2 million
— Health-care costs for a woman for a single incident: $948
— Health-care costs for a man for a single incident: $387
— Days of paid work lost because of intimate partner violence: 8 million, equal to 32,000 full-time jobs
— Loss in earnings: $892,733
Topeka has already had at least dozens of reported incidents of domestic battery or assault since early September. And because those cases were not pursued, 18 people of those jailed have been released without facing charges.
Update, Thursday, 11:36 a.m.:
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Attorney's Office will prosecute domestic violence cases committed in Topeka, which include examining the cases of the 18 people who were released after charges weren’t filed.
The announcement was made by District Attorney Chad Taylor less than 24 hours after the city’s council’s vote.
Taylor had earlier said the city office should prosecute misdemeanors committed inside Topeka city limits.