El Paso's Domestic Violence Program Receives Recognition
POSTED: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 5:33pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 5:38pm
DOWNTOWN EL PASO- El Paso's 24 Hour Domestic Violence Program not only works, it's among the best in the state according to researchers at the University Of Texas in Austin.
The hallmark of the program is that investigators visit every victim in a domestic violence case within 24 hours of the initial police report. This allows investigators to gather evidence and take the abuser to trial more quickly.
The El Paso District Attorney's Office turned heads three years ago when it started a program to help domestic violence victims. District Attorney Jaime Esparza is now declaring the program is a success.
"The very first thing we want to know if they are safe, are they okay. The second thing we want to do is that we want to tell them these are the services in our community. If you need help, we can provide that help,” said Esparza.
Esparza says he wants to send a message to abusers that the city takes domestic violence seriously, and will prosecute those who break the law.
"The fact that it's inappropriate behavior, mostly women, also some men should not be subjected to this kind of behavior. Households should not have the environment that is created as a result of domestic violence,” said Esparza.
Esparza says it's the youngest victims who can suffer the most.
"Children certainly should not have to live in that environment and we know that when children see that kind of behavior on a repeated bases, that they will repeat it,” said Esparza.
The Austin-based Texas Council on Family Violence says the success of El Paso's program is something that other communities should look up to.
"Typically it takes 18 months for a case to go to trial, and you heard him say just few minutes ago they can be ready to go to trial in 24 hours. That is remarkable,” said Gloria Terry, President of the Texas Council on Family Violence.
Another strength of the program is that offenders can be prosecuted even when the victims stop cooperating.
"These cases are complicated, and it's difficult for a woman to, and a man to come forward and say my partner, the father, the mother of my children is the one that caused this harm to me. So, being able to move a case without the victim present is just remarkable,” said Terry.
The El Paso Center Against Family Violence says last year more than 2,000 people took advantage of their Family Resource Center, and more than 700 stayed at their emergency shelter.