When Mike Ross announced a crime plan Tuesday, his campaign emphasized a portion focusing on domestic violence — increased support for shelters, more investigative money for child abuse and more training of police officers in coping with domestic situations. (See the story in the paper this morning of a Little Rock cop accused of a fist fight with his son over going to church and making his bed?)
The domestic violence focus has brought attention from the widely read Huffington Post, because it fits with its recent story on the slaying of an Arkansas women despite a record of attempts to protect herself from an abusive boyfriend through court proceedings. Ross, the Democratic candidate for governor, said he was motivated by the story about Laura Aceves.
“The state of Arkansas and the system failed victims like Laura and it continues to fail too many women and children,” Ross said. “Domestic violence is a real problem in Arkansas.”
In the last decade, Arkansas has frequently been ranked as one of the 10 worst states when it comes to men killing women, according to annual reports by the Violence Policy Center. The ranking is based on FBI data on incidents in which a sole male offender kills a single female victim, a typical indicator of domestic homicide.
Under Ross’s plan, the state would take new steps to protect and support domestic violence victims.
One key initiative would change the way police respond to domestic violence calls. Under Ross’s plan, Arkansas police would be trained to screen victims for risk level by asking a series of research-based questions. If the victim is determined to be at high risk, police would inform her about the danger she is in, encourage her to seek help and connect her with key resources.
The method, called “lethality assessment,” has shown encouraging progress in reducing homicides across the country.
“Thirty-two states have now implemented some form of lethality assessment,” said Ross. “It’s past time for Arkansas to do the same.”
The article also mentions this idea:
Ross’ plan also includes the creation of a confidential address program to help survivors of sexual assault, rape, stalking or domestic violence keep their location secret from abusers; changing the law so it’s easier for domestic violence survivors to terminate a housing lease without penalty; and directing the state to publish a comprehensive report on domestic violence every two years.
The article notes that Ross is in close race with Republican Asa Hutchinson, trailing 48-44 according to Huffington’s pollster. Hard to figure how advocacy for battered women could hurt.