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Louisiana faces numerous challenges in addressing domestic violence

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According to a recent report from the office of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, the state's attempts to address its growing domestic violence problem faces significant challenges.

Just last year, 19 domestic violence deaths were recorded. As of Monday, 2021 has already seen 35.

Auditors discovered that state agencies attempting to support survivors of domestic violence and stamp out the problem altogether are inundated by issues that impede progress.

Some of these issues include gaps in services for survivors, insufficient and inflexible funding, inconsistent implementation of strategies to protect victims, lack of oversight for intervention programs for perpetrators, and lack of training for certain entities involved in addressing domestic violence.

According to auditors, Louisiana lacks a sufficient number of domestic violence shelter beds as well as the needed support services for victims.

In addition to this, laws intended to protect victims, such as the issuance of protective orders, are not consistently implemented.

Auditors also found that while state law requires domestic violence training for law enforcement, certain officials who play key roles in the lives of domestic violence survivors and alleged perpetrators, are not required to undergo such training. Officials not required to be trained in this area include judges and district attorneys.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Fields says training is paramount in making everyone in the system understand the complex domestic violence situation. 

"If you haven't been around it, it's really hard to understand why people stay together when there's violence, when there's power and control in a relationship. And it's easy to be judgmental, not that our judges, DA's and defense attorneys are but, it's easy to do if you just don't understand it."

In addition to this, though state law requires that all public school students and employees receive education about dating violence, not all schools and employers ensure the provision of such training.

Auditors add that their assessment revealed a lack of oversight and consistency in intervention programs aimed at perpetrators. They said this is due to the fact that such programs are not monitored by a supervisory entity.

Click here to read the state auditor's full report on the challenges Louisiana faces in addressing its domestic violence problem.

And, click here to listen to a podcast regarding the issue.

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