Kent County, Michigan is attempting to put in place two domestic violence courts. The purpose of establishing these courts is to provide more support for victims, as well as more supervision and rehabilitation for offenders.
Calling it a “very intensive probation”, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says that offenders would meet with a judge rather than with a probation officer, as people tend to be more impacted by the words of a judge. They would also meet weekly or biweekly, compared to once a month as is normal. Along with counseling, this setup is to hold offenders accountable and hopefully make it more pertinent for them to change their ways. It will also be ensured that one judge will be with the offender throughout their case.
Along with the offenders, the victims of domestic violence would get more care in these courts than they would normally. Help with finding employment, housing, food, etc. would all be provided to victims. A system of social workers to support and aid victims of domestic violence would be available for people who need them. Victims will also be safer, with their abusers being more supervised, safety measures such as no contact orders will be more strictly enforced and bring more consequences if violated.
Becker is gravely concerned with domestic homicides: too many people are losing their lives to domestic violence. Homicides related to domestic violence have been on the rise in recent times. Consequently, these courts are to place greater focus on the cases that are the most at risk for life threatening violence. Becker and his team have secured the funding for this project – a total of $4 million which will support the courts for three years, and are expected to open next year.