MORRISON TO TAKE UNPRECEDENTED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAM STATEWIDE
Posted by firephillkline on September 5, 2006
Looks like Morrison has heard about Kline’s massive failure with the Victims Services division. Bravo, Mr. Morrison, for doing more than just talking about making things better. Perhaps Kline could learn yet another lesson from your campaign- offer solutions instead of rhetoric.
Politics aside, this sounds like an incredible program- and one Kansas has needed for a number of years.
Morrison unveils the Kansas Domestic Abuse Response Initiative
TOPEKA-Johnson County District Attorney and candidate for Kansas Attorney
General Paul Morrison unveils his comprehensive plan to decrease domestic
violence (DV), end the cycle of family abuse and ultimately lower homicide
Morrison was joined by domestic violence survivor Ann Whedon Altermann,
social workers and other domestic violence activists in a news conference
today at the State Capitol in Topeka.
“Shortly after becoming Johnson County District Attorney in 1989, I
implemented an aggressive, comprehensive program to crack down on domestic
violence,” said Morrison. “I can say without hesitation that many people are
alive today because of that program and many more have seen a significant
difference in their lives here in Kansas.”
In 1999, the Johnson County domestic violence program was studied by an
independent group with a grant funded the Federal S.T.O.P Violence Against
Women Grant Program, administered by the Kansas Attorney General, Carla
Stovall. The study found that Morrison’s protocol for handling DV cases
saved lived and lowered the County’s homicide rate.
“We have a strict, no nonsense policy that doesn’t take excuses and focuses
primarily on protecting victims and helping families end abuse,” said
Morrison. “My goal is to help all Kansas families by expanding this program
First, Morrison proposes establishing a Domestic Violence Unit within the
Criminal Division of the Kansas Attorney General’s office. This Unit will
consist of specially trained assistant attorneys general and a domestic
The focus of this Unit will be to assist counties with prosecution of
domestic violence cases, coordinate training efforts and provide victims
with support as they proceed through the criminal justice system.
“By assisting counties, the attorney general’s office will help both law
enforcement and non-profit organizations more efficiently use their limited
resources to serve victims more effectively,” said Morrison.
Second, Morrison proposes that the Kansas Attorney General’s Office
specialized Domestic Violence Unit coordinate and collaborate with other
entities in providing statewide training for criminal justice professionals,
law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation and parole officers,
community corrections, victim/witness coordinators, crime victim advocates,
healthcare professionals and faith based initiatives.
These training programs will occur regionally with collaboration from others
involved in training efforts.
“The first step towards decreasing domestic violence is educating the
community and law enforcement about the warning signs and indicators of
violence,” said Morrison. “By providing educated assistance to victims, we
can stop the cycle of violence that destroys families and hurts our
Next, Morrison proposes that the Domestic Violence Unit provide a guide to
the best practices in dealing with domestic violence cases. He suggests
assisting law enforcement with new procedures to hold abusers accountable
while still allowing for flexibility around the state.
“Because of the diversity within our state, it’s necessary to allow
flexibility while at the same time insisting that counties aggressively
pursue domestic abusers,” said Morrison. “I have the experience and
expertise to lead the fight.”
Morrison also recommends strictly enforcing Kansas’ mandatory arrest statute
and amending it to require law enforcement to arrest the “predominant
aggressor.” He also recommends strictly enforcing protections orders.
“Too often further harm to victims happens once they leave the abusive
situation. Protection orders need to be strictly enforced and prosecuted
when violated,” said Morrison.
The final component of Morrison’s plan will be to create a trial Pro Bono
Program to assist prosecutors who have limited staff and financial resources
to handle an increase in case load.
The program will create a pool of volunteer attorneys across the state
trained to prosecute domestic violence cases. The Domestic Violence Unit
will train the attorneys and assign them to prosecutors in their area.
“As attorney general, I will strive to achieve justice for all victims, in
all corners of the state,” said Morrison. “The Pro Bono Program will
eliminate all obstacles to justice.”
“With this comprehensive plan, Kansas can crack down on domestic abuse, save
families and end the cycle of violence that harms our children. We have
proof that this multifaceted approach saves lives and I will work hard to
help all Kansas families in need,” said Morrison.
Kansas Domestic Abuse Response Initiative
For over 25 years, Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison has faced
the issues of domestic violence head-on. Shortly after taking office in
1989, Morrison implemented one of the most aggressive and comprehensive
domestic violence programs in the nation. This program proved successful and
according to an independent study funded by a grant from the Federal S.T.O.P
Violence Against Women Grant Program administered by the Kansas Attorney
General’s office, has lowered the County’s homicide rate. (See attached
Because of his dedication to the safety of Kansas families, Morrison
proposes implementing this comprehensive domestic violence program
The following are Johnson County District Attorney and candidate for Kansas
Attorney General Paul Morrison’s proposals to address domestic violence:
Domestic Violence Unit
Establishment of a Domestic Violence Unit. Recognizing and addressing the
problem of domestic violence is necessary not only to promote safety in our
homes but also safety in our communities. Kansas law enforcement officers
respond to approximately 18,000 incidents of domestic violence crimes each
year. Recently, domestic violence related homicides have increased in
Kansas. It is necessary to have a dedicated unit in the Criminal Division
of the Kansas Attorney General’s office which specializes in domestic
Recommendation: Morrison proposes establishing a Domestic Violence Unit
within the Criminal Division of the Kansas Attorney General’s office. This
Unit will consist of specially trained assistant attorneys general and a
domestic violence specialist. The focus of this Unit will be to assist
counties with prosecution of domestic violence cases, coordinate training
efforts and provide victims with support as they proceed through the
criminal justice system.
The Kansas Attorney General’s office should provide the necessary legal
assistance for addressing the crime of domestic violence to prosecutors, law
enforcement officers and other criminal justice professionals. This Unit
will specifically focus on domestic violence and assist counties with these
cases. The Unit will provide assistance in the best practices in addressing
The domestic violence specialist will advocate on behalf of victims of
domestic violence, assist with training of victims/witness coordinators and
other criminal justice professionals and coordinate with domestic violence
programs, statewide domestic violence coalition and other community groups
to build partnerships and ensure that the necessary resources are available
to assist these programs.
* There is currently one Victim’s Rights Coordinator and one
advocate in the Kansas Attorney General’s office.
Domestic Violence Training
Domestic Violence Training. It is critical that all Kansas criminal
justice professionals are educated in recognizing and addressing domestic
Recommendation: Morrison proposes that the Kansas Attorney General’s Office
specialized Domestic Violence Unit coordinate and collaborate with other
entities in providing multi-disciplinary statewide training for criminal
justice professionals, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation and
parole officers, community corrections, victim/witness coordinators, crime
victim advocates, shelters, healthcare professionals, and faith based
initiatives. These training programs will occur regionally with
collaboration from others involved in training efforts.
This coordinated effort will allow for a consistent, cohesive message of
holding offenders accountability and providing for victim safety. Only
through consistent and on-going training can we ensure that domestic
violence crimes are addressed appropriately.
Domestic Violence Best Practices
Domestic Violence Best Practices. As Johnson County District Attorney, Paul
Morrison developed one of the most successful domestic violence programs in
the nation. According to a study funded by a grant from the Kansas Attorney
General’s office in 1999, the program decreased the homicide rate and saved
Recommendation: Morrison proposes that the Attorney General’s office provide
a guide to best practices for handling domestic violence cases. Because of
the diversity within the state, the Domestic Violence Unit will work with
each county to allow flexibility while at the same time ensure that domestic
violence crimes are aggressively pursued.
DV Best Practices. The following are suggested practices for addressing
* Mandatory Arrest Statute. Under Kansas law, law enforcement officers
are required to make an arrest when there is evidence of domestic violence.
All Kansas law enforcement should enforce this statute.
o Predominant Aggressor. Morrison recommends that the current
mandatory arrest statute be amended to require that law enforcement officers
arrest the “predominant aggressor” specifically. This will eliminate the
possibility that victims are arrested without a thorough investigation by
the arresting officer.
o Review Law Enforcement Policies. Morrison recommends that the
Domestic Violence Unit review existing law enforcement policies that are
required by law to ensure compliance and to assist local law enforcement
agencies with their policy development and enforcement.
* Review Enforcement of Protection from Abuse Orders. Too often
further harm to victims happens once they leave the abusive situation.
Protection orders need to be enforced and prosecuted when violated. The
Domestic Violence Unit will provide assistance in enforcement of these
* Require Standards for working with Batterers. Statewide protocols
for working with those convicted of domestic violence crimes is needed. A
complete assessment and monitoring tool for offenders needs to be
established. Batterer intervention programs should be certified and follow
best practices for working with these offenders.
* Community Partnerships. The Attorney General and Domestic Violence
Unit will work with community, healthcare, and faith based organizations to
build partnerships to assist in efforts to address domestic violence.
Partnerships will provide for a cohesive message that domestic violence will
not be tolerated and offenders will be held accountable.
Pro Bono Program
Pro Bono Program. Often county prosecutors face financial and resource
challenges in prosecuting domestic violence cases. This program is designed
to give prosecutors additional attorneys to prosecute domestic violence
Recommendation: Morrison proposes creating a trial program to help
prosecutors around the state manage their domestic violence case load. This
trial program, coordinated by the new Domestic Violence Unit, would connect
the prosecutors’ offices with private attorneys willing to take cases on a
pro bono basis. This program will help eliminate any obstacles prosecutor’s
offices have to filing domestic violence cases.
The volunteer private attorneys will be trained by the new aforementioned
Domestic Violence Unit.