EBR judge wants domestic violence court
BATON ROUGE - A Baton Rouge judge wants to establish a domestic violence court in East Baton Rouge Parish.
State District Judge Donald Johnson says the recent domestic related murders in Ascension Parish motivated his ideas to create a new court that he feels would help to curb domestic violence.
"The incident in the other parish is an example of our inability as a system to help prevent that type of activity to the extent it might happen," he said.
Johnson says the court needs to take a proactive approach to respond to domestic violence. Johnson wants violators of protective orders to stay in jail longer before a judge has to set bail. That way the judge can evaluate the potential risk of violence.
"Rather than just setting a bond and allowing someone to make bail, the court could entertain measures such as waiting longer to set bail until an adequate assessment of the risk has been determined," he said.
Currently, a judge must set bail within 72 hours of the arrest for violating a protective order. Domestic violence advocates we spoke with today feel a new court is a step in the right direction.
"I think that anything we can do that focuses on holding the offender accountable is worth a try to see if we can decrease our rate of domestic violence, in particular, domestic violence homicide," said Judy Benitez.
Johnson plans to present his domestic violence court idea to other judges on May 7 and to the full court on May 21.