Pounds: Sad hiatusWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Just days after it released a significant report on how local courts handle domestic violence cases, Independent Advocates (IA) announced it was suspending its operations.
Since 2007, the local organization has primarily been identified with Rebecca Facey and Rachel Richardson, who have worked to improve the community’s response to domestic violence.
“It is amazing to see how much this grassroots organization has been able to achieve with minimal funds and resources,” Facey said in a May 31 news release. “The passion and commitment of myself and Rachel Richardson as well as countless volunteers, board members and concerned community members has helped create a lasting impact on how Toledo thinks about domestic violence. We have been honored to serve hundreds of survivors of domestic violence in Lucas County.”
IA recently released a report that said of the nearly 1,600 domestic violence cases seen by Toledo Municipal Court in 2011, 79 percent were completely dismissed or reduced to lesser charges while just 2 percent actually went to trial.
“The prosecution relies on the victim to show up in court and testify and, if they don’t, the court doesn’t have a case,” Facey said. “I can say as an advocate having worked with women, their primary goal when they call the police is for the violence that is happening right now to stop. When they come to court, they’re looking for the person to be held accountable so that it doesn’t happen again, and so that the person just doesn’t get away with it. But unfortunately, the message both the victims and defendants are getting is that, ‘If you can get the victim not to come to court, the case goes away.’”
The volunteer-based Court Watch program that assembled the report will continue to operate and collect future data, according to a news release, and Facey said she will continue her schooling so she can continue fighting for domestic violence victims.
“We felt there was a need for comprehensive court advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and we generally felt that the community response to domestic violence needed to be improved drastically,” Facey told Toledo Free Press in 2010. “We want to try to bring domestic violence to the forefront of community members’ minds and the courts’ minds.”
That need still exists, and while the community owes a debt of gratitude to Facey, Richardson and IA, let us hope others will step up to meet that need and continue the legacy of IA’s important work.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.