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Domestic violence court to help convicts in Baton Rouge

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Posted: Aug 14, 2014 2:16 PM by Chris Nakamoto
Updated: Aug 14, 2014 6:01 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Domestic Violence Court, Convicts, Baton Rouge, Judge Laura Prosser, Judy Benitez, Iris

BATON ROUGE- A new domestic violence court is scheduled to start operating in October in Baton Rouge City Court.

It would provide assistance to abusers once they are convicted of any crimes associated with domestic violence. Currently, Louisiana leads the nation in domestic violence deaths.

"Whenever we are in criminal court, our entire Monday docket is domestic violence cases," Judge Laura Prosser said. "We set 50 cases per day."

This year, legislators tightened up laws on those convicted of domestic violence to increase penalties on abusers. A new domestic violence court could also be the answer since some of the people who come through the system are repeat offenders.

"What I see in court that I didn't expect to see so much is the victims once they are before the judge feel intimidated to carry through with the charge, so they try to drop charges often they are afraid of what will happen when they get home at night," Prosser said.

Judy Benitez is the Executive Director of Iris, an organization that helps people impacted by domestic violence. Currently, the organization helps seven to eight thousand people per year in a few parishes in our area.

"There's always more demand for services than there are services available unfortunately," Benitez said. "We do the best we can to help anybody who comes to us."

Benitez believes the new domestic violence court will help with the current problems.

"This is not acceptable behavior in this community or our society," Benitez said. "You will be held accountable and we will not sit by and watch it happen."

Those enrolled in the program pay court costs to fund it. The salaries for the employees are paid for with grant money.

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