Tag Archives: domestic violence

Minnesota Domestic Violence Deaths Increase in 2013

Domestic Violence StatsComing off a year where domestic violence deaths fell to a 20–year low, Minnesota saw a disturbing increase in the number of domestic violence-related deaths in 2013.

The 2012 Femicide Report showed that the state was moving in the right direction in preventing domestic assault deaths, as the 19 reported incidents marked a 20-year low. Unfortunately, the number of deaths from domestic violence nearly doubled in 2013, as there were 37 reported cases.

This year’s Femicide Report said the state can’t let those who died be forgotten.

“Our challenge to the community is not to let these deaths go unnoticed but rather to use these brutal murders as a springboard for action,” the report said.

Disturbing Trends

The 2013 Femicide Report documented numerous domestic assault statistics. Some of the findings can be found below:

  • 24 women and seven men were killed by current or former partners. Six friends or family members were also killed as a result of domestic violence.
  • 15 of the 24 women were killed after the women left or as they were trying to leave a relationship. The report said the most dangerous time for battered women is when they try to end the relationship.
  • The perpetrator committed suicide after killing the victim in about 50 percent of cases, much higher than the national murder-suicide average.
  • 17 of the 37 murders were committed with firearms.

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, the group who creates the annual Femicide Report, said the last point was one area where they’d like to see the government intervene.

“When there is a history of domestic violence, we should be looking at the question of access to firearms,” the report said.

Minnesota lawmakers will soon vote on two new pieces of legislation aimed at keeping domestic violence victims safe. The first proposed law would give victims the right to be notified of an offender’s location after they are released from prison, and the second bill would increase the ability of police to arrest suspected abusers after they have fled the scene of an alleged crime.

Rebeckah Moses, program manager for the WCBW, said the proposed legistlation is a step in the right direction, but more changes are needed.

“Safety must be a priority and recognized as a core issue at the Legislature and beyond,” said Moses. “We are all impacted: in our workplaces, schools, homes, courts and community.”

Related source: PostBulletin.com

St. Paul Police Conduct Domestic Assault Sweep to Round Up Wanted Fugitives

Domestic ViolencePolice officers in St. Paul conducted their annual “Family Violence Apprehension Detail” on Wednesday in hopes of getting some wanted fugitives off the street, and the program netted at least 12 arrests.

Since 2007, St. Paul police have conducted the annual sweep to help bring domestic violence offenders to justice. The one-day sweep is held each October to coincide with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Today is one of those days where we get a chance to send a message to the worst of the worst,” said Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom.

The St. Paul department is just one of over 200 law enforcement agencies that conducts an annual sweep each October. Unlike other types of crimes, many domestic assaults go unreported. Bostrom said the sweep gives the police another chance to intervene and prevent further violence.

“There are very few times when we get a chance to interrupt that. Today is one of those days,” he said.

Concerning Statistics

According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, 35 Minnesotans have already lost their lives this year due to domestic violence. If that number is correct, it’s a big jump from 2012, when 19 domestic violence-related deaths occurred in the state. If the deaths continue at the current rate, 44 individuals will lose their lives to domestic violence, the most in a calendar year since 2001.

The numbers are even more concerning when you consider how well the state had been doing in reducing the number of domestic violence deaths in recent years. 2012 marked the fewest number of domestic violence-related deaths in over twenty years.

The sweep targeted 92 suspects, many of whom were considered “heavy hitters,” or individuals with multiple offenses, said St. Paul police Cmdr. Mary Nash.

“This is about making a big impression that we know who you are, you’ve done some bad things, and we’re after you,” she added.

Sweep Success

Acting on little more than the suspect’s last known address, St. Paul police officers were able to track down and arrest 12 domestic assault suspects, and the Ramsey County sheriff’s office believe more arrests could come in the following days as other suspects learn they are wanted by the police.

In one instance, officers stopped at a suspect’s work after they were unable to locate him at his house.

“I’m losing money,” the suspect said as he was being led away in handcuffs.

Although the specific sweep is conducted once a year in October, this isn’t the first time law enforcement officers in Minnesota have attempted to round up domestic violence offenders. Back in July, the Hennepin County sheriff’s office conducted a similar domestic violence sweep with the help of more than a dozen surrounding agencies.

If you would like to report the whereabouts of an individual with an outstanding domestic violence warrant, you can leave an anonymous tip by calling 888-988-TIPS.

Related source: Pioneer Press

Police to Act on Domestic Violence Warrants Wednesday

CC image Wikipedia.orgIf you have an outstanding warrant and want to avoid an embarrassing situation at your home or place of work tomorrow, you might want to head down to the police station before the day is done.

That’s because the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, along with more than a dozen surrounding agencies, will be conducting a warrant sweep on Wednesday with a special emphasis on felons with a history of domestic violence.

“People who are wanted on active warrants are more likely to reoffend,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek in a statement. “By pursuing warrants, we are sending the message that domestic violence will not be tolerated in Hennepin County and offenders will be held accountable.”

Although last year saw the fewest amount of domestic violence deaths in Minnesota since 1991, a person shouldn’t need to die for others to understand the importance of curbing domestic violence.

In his statement, Sheriff Stanek provided some guidelines for people who are considering turning themselves in:

  • In order to determine if you have an active warrant, visit the Office Warrant Unit, located in Room 22 of the Minneapolis City Hall. Respondents are asked to bring a photo ID to aid in the inquiry.
  • If you know you have a warrant and you’re interested in surrendering, you can do so at the Hennepin County public safety facility, located at 401 S. Fourth Ave., or at any area police department. Respondents are asked to bring a photo ID, any prescription medications, and cash, if bail is available.
  • Any person with knowledge of a fugitive with an active warrant can anonymously submit tips by calling 888-988-TIPS.

Related source: Pioneer Press

Butt Slap Lands Chad Johnson in Jail

CC image Wikipedia.orgHigh-fives, fist-bumps, and a pat on the rear are common ways athletes applaud the work of their teammates, but the courtroom is a place where a more civilized form of celebration should be used, especially if the presiding judge is Kathleen McHugh.

Wide receiver Chad Johnson learned that lesson the hard way on Monday when he was sentenced to 30 days in jail after he gave his attorney a gentle pat on the butt.

Johnson was in court for failing to meet with his parole officer, which was a condition of a previous agreement from a domestic violence incident in 2012. As you can see in the video, it appears that Johnson was initially going to avoid jail time for failing to meet with his parole officer. The judge was handing down a sentence that included counseling and community service when things took a turn for the worse.

When asked if he was pleased with his attorney, Johnson responded, “he’s awesome”. He then gave his counsel a physical sign of approval by patting him once on the rear. The judge may have dismissed the slap, but it drew quite a reaction from the audience. The laughter angered Judge McHugh, and she accused Johnson of failing to take court seriously.

“There is nothing funny about what’s going on here today,” said McHugh.

Johnson told the judge that he wasn’t laughing, but the damage had been done.

“I don’t think anything’s funny about it, Mr. Johnson,” said the judge.  “This isn’t a joke.”

Adam Swickle, the attorney who received the butt slap, said he didn’t believe Johnson intended to make a mockery of the proceedings.

“I don’t think it was done as any disrespect to the court.  I don’t think he meant to get a reaction from the court room,” said Swickle.

Judge McHugh changed her stance on the plea deal, saying she would no longer accept a deal that avoided jail time. She sentenced Johnson to 30 days in jail and added three more months onto his probation, which was set to end in September.

Criminal Defense Attorney Avery Appelman said Johnson has only himself to blame for the latest incident.

“While the gesture may have been relatively innocent, Johnson should remember the proper decorum associated with the court of law,” said Appelman. “The reaction the move received from the crowd cast a humorous tone over a serious domestic violence case. It was unintentional, but it sent the wrong message to the judge.”

Johnson issued the following tweet after the sentence was handed down.

“Love me through the good and the bad because I’m gone love you regardless… See you in 30…”

Johnson is still hoping to continue his NFL career despite failing to find a team to play for in 2012. He was cut by the Dolphins during training camp last fall, but he still believes he can be an integral part of an NFL organization. It appears he’ll face an even tougher time finding a team now that he’ll spend the next 30 days behind bars.

Minnesotans Urge for Funding to Curb Domestic Violence against Women

Although domestic violence deaths were at a 20-year low in 2012, the troubling start to the new year has prompted women’s rights advocates to petition state legislatures to allocate more funds to combat domestic abuse.

In 2012 there were 19 reported cases of homicide connected with domestic abuse, but there have already been eight such cases in less than three months in 2013.

To voice their opinions, domestic violence victims’ advocates gathered at the State Capital on Tuesday to ask for $3 million in funding over the next two years to help put a stop to domestic violence.

“[Domestic violence] won’t go away unless we collectively work on this issue,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger.

State officials were encouraged when the 2012 Femicide Report showed that the 19 deaths in 2012 represented a 20-year low, but the state is on pace for 41 domestic violence deaths in 2013.  That’s 41 too many.

Domestic abuse has been in the news recently, as a St. Paul husband has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kira Trevino.  Trevino has been missing since February 24, and there is dwindling hope that she’ll be found alive.

Victim Services

Many advocates point to the lack of funding for domestic abuse services.  Seven counties and four reservation communities had state funding for domestic abuse services taken away, and three domestic violence programs in Fillmore, Carlton and St. Louis counties have had to close due to lack of funds.

“It’s very alarming,” said Bree Adams Bill, who works as program manager for the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.

63,267 domestic abuse victims sought services from abuse programs in 2012, but officials feel that number greatly under-represents the actual number of victims.  According to their reports, only one in five abuse victims seek professional services.

Lack of state funding isn’t the only reason domestic violence programs have had to close their doors in recent years.  Advocates say donations and foundation funding as decreased roughly 10-20% over the past two years.

“Violence against women is preventable, but to be successful, we need continued funding and support from policymakers, business leaders and the wide range of communities that make Minnesota great,” said Dr. Oliver Williams, who works with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence, please speak up.  Contact the police and an attorney to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe.

Related source:  Star-Tribune

How to Job Hunt with a Criminal Record

In 2010, 73 percent of human resources professionals said their company conducted a criminal background check during the hiring process, and that number has likely increased over the past few years as more information is becoming digitized.  Most people don’t have anything interesting on their record, but job seekers who have a criminal record may feel that past convictions will start them off on the wrong foot.  Because background checks are becoming more common, we’ll explore some ways to best present yourself to an employer if you have a criminal record.

  • Consider getting your criminal record sealed – Depending on what crime you committed, you may be able to get your record sealed.  Sealing or expunging your record doesn’t erase any information, but it does limit who can access it.  You can talk with an attorney or legal professional to determine if sealing your record is an option, or you can visit your state government’s website.
  • Volunteer opportunities can speak volumes – Exploring volunteering options can provide many benefits for job seekers.  First, it can show a company that you are focusing on the future, not dwelling in the past. Also, volunteer opportunities give you a chance to develop solid references that can put in a good word if your prospective employer calls for a reference.
  • Be knowledgeable about your conviction – It’s important to know exactly what you’ve been convicted of, as inaccurate information can be harmful in the interview process.  If you show an interviewer that you understand the charges and accepted the penalties, it can put you in a better light than those who don’t acknowledge or show remorse for their crimes.
  • Participate in re-entry programs – There are plenty of programs that help job seekers with a criminal record re-enter the professional world.  In Minnesota, there are certain groups like the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition and 180 Degrees who work to get people with a criminal record a job by focusing on education, training and support.  These programs can be listed on a resume and discussed in an interview to show that you are committed to developing professional skills and have a desire to learn.
  • Consider where you apply – During the application process, you’ll likely be asked if you have been convicted of a crime.  Read the section carefully, as some employers only ask for a certain time period (i.e. last five years) or for certain levels of crime (only list felonies).  If you’re applying at a larger company, you might have a tough time explaining your past convictions to a hiring manager.  Oftentimes at larger companies, human resources professionals without “hiring power” conduct an initial interview.  Second and third interviews with hiring and on-site managers are then conducted, and it can be difficult to explain your conviction to a person in charge if you have to go through multiple interviews.  By applying at a smaller company, you increase the likelihood that your initial interview will be with someone with greater hiring power and will give you a first-hand chance to explain any convictions.

 

  • Honesty is the best policy – It’s always best to disclose any past criminal convictions, as neglecting to do so can be cause for termination, even months after you get the job.  With that said, don’t start the interview by jumping into your past legal troubles.  Prepare what you plan to say before your interview in case it comes up.  Also, consider discussing the prior conviction after the company had expressed interest in you.  When discussing your conviction, it’s important to walk the line between accepting responsibility for your actions and explaining yourself.  For example, I knew a colleague back in college whose house got busted for having a party.  He took the fall for his roommate who purchased the keg because the roommate was a criminal justice major, and a ticket for “supplying to minors” would result in his expulsion from the program.  The roommate paid my colleague for the ticket, but now he has to explain the supplying to minors ticket during interviews.  He said he often has to tiptoe the line between explaining his side of the story and accepting the consequences for making a rash decision to support a friend.  He is prepared for the question, and tries to turn his answer into a positive outlook on his character.  He admits that it doesn’t always work, but being prepared and answering honestly help explain a conviction that looks bad on paper.

 

GPS Tracking Seeks to Deter Domestic Violence in Minnesota

GPSRamsey County and other criminal justice departments will begin using GPS monitoring to track alleged domestic violence offenders before their trial to ensure compliance with court orders.

The GPS will monitor the location of the defendant in order to protect the victim and prevent violations of pre-trial stipulations.  Participation in the GPS tracking program must be agreed upon by both parties involved.  Ramsey County Attorney John Choi believes the technology can offer another sense of protection to victims.

“This program will apply the power of technology and creative thinking to intervene in this all-too-familiar cycle of violence,” said Choi. “Most importantly, it gives victims of domestic violence another layer of protection at a critical point in their lives.”

Although use of the technology does not guarantee a victim’s safety, the benefits to both parties seem to outweigh the drawbacks.

From a victim’s state of view, the GPS technology can offer peace of mind knowing that police can see when an alleged abuser is nearing the victim’s home or place of employment.  This assurance gives victims a chance to focus on their daily routine as opposed to fearing that they may receive an unwelcomed visit from the defendant.

There are also drawbacks for the victims in a GPS monitoring program.  Researchers fear that victims may curtail their schedules to only stay in “victim zones”, or they may develop a false sense of security.  Also, they may receive less financial support from the defendant if the abuser is unable to find employment or faces work restrictions due to the presence of a GPS monitor.

The program also has benefits for defendants.  Defendants may receive lower bail amounts if they agree to the GPS program, and they would have peace of mind knowing that GPS tracking would prevent false accusations about harassment attempts.  Also, successful completion of the program would show the court that the defendant is willing to comply with court orders.

Minnesota Defense Lawyer Adam Goldfine believes most of the benefits favor the alleged victim.

“There are not too many benefits for the defendant,” said Goldfine.  “It’s also pretty presumptive to place a GPS device on an alleged abuser before trial.”

Goldfine also mentioned that although the defendant may receive a lower bail amount, they would likely have to cover some of the expenses associated with the GPS program.  That being said, Goldfine believes it will be a good program and he is curious to see the results.

“It won’t be a complete deterrent, but it will be a good measure.”

Related source:  My Fox Twin Cities

Judge Shown Beating Disabled Daughter on Video Won’t Be Charged

Last week, Hillary Adams took to the internet and posted an 8-minute video of her father, Judge William Adams, beating her with a leather belt back in 2004. It was announced on Thursday that the 5-year statute of limitations for the incident has expired.

Judge Adams will not be charged with assault in connection with the beating of his disabled daughter, who suffers from ataxic cerebral palsy. However, according to Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe, “We believe that there was a criminal offense involved and that there was substantial evidence to indicate that and under normal circumstances- a charge could have been made.”

Hillary and her mother Hallie Adams told Matt Lauer on the Today show that this was not an isolated incident. “It did happen regularly for a period of time” said Hillary, “and I could tell because of the pattern that things were escalating again.”

It was during this period of the alleged intensifying abuse in 2004 that Hillary decided to capture it on video. She positioned the camera on her bedroom dresser and covered it with a scarf. When asked what prompted her to post the video 7 years later, Hillary told Lauer, “It wasn’t any huge happening or anything. I told him I had the video. He didn’t seem to think anything of it, and basically dared me to post it.” She later told Anderson Cooper, “I just knew this was something I needed to hold on to. I needed to show people one day. I didn’t know why.”

According to Adams’ criminal defense lawyer, William Dudley, “Hillary warned her father if he reduced her financial support and took away her Mercedes automobile, which her father had provided, he would live to regret it. The post was then uploaded.”

According to Judge Adams, a family law judge who presides over child abuse cases, the video is “not as bad as it looks,” and he was simply disciplining his daughter for downloading pirated internet content. Despite not being charged, the judge is still being investigated by the state’s judicial conduct commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Judge Adams has been suspended from his court duties for two weeks. Officials are unsure whether he will ever return to presiding over domestic violence cases in the wake of the video.

You can see the 8-minute long video here.

Keywords: child abuse, domestic violence, Judge William Adams, Hillary Adams, criminal defense

Related Sources:

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Daily Mail