Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Domestic Violence & Jello-torials

HOW MANY TIMES must we read in the news about ANOTHER woman killed by a man she once loved? First it was Heather Spencer, then Dorothy Shavers, now it is Latasha Norman. Not to mention the case on tv a few months ago where the woman was severely beaten by her ex-husband, a former cop, yet he was given a mere slap on the wrist by the justice system. It's clear something is not right at all. Yet, except for some hand-wringing, nothing is done. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Charges are mysteriously reduced, judges don't even slap the wrists of women-beaters, the police do not take suspects into custody, and still more women die.

Unfortunately, the impotence against domestic violence has spread even to The Clarion-Ledger as last week it opined on domestic violence in the wake of the Norman murder. The editorial was so weak as to be insulting to the collective intelligence of Mississippians. The paper has many jello writers. Jello because too many writers at the newspaper are great at writing about jello recipes, but are passive in their writing and grammar while having no backbone.

In this case, the editorial states the facts, then Dr. Mason's remarks, "Latasha's death was a case of a social ill in this country: relationship violence." He implored any woman who suffered abuse to "get the help that you need," and announced the university's center for social and clinical counseling would be renamed after Norman." It then continues:
Mason's announcement was paired with a similar one by Glenda Glover, the dean of JSU's College of Business, the university would establish a symposium on domestic violence in Norman's name...
Jackson already was reeling from the September death of Mary Heather Spencer, 28, who was bludgeoned to death. She was the girlfriend of George Bell III, 33, now charged with domestic assault and capital murder. Bell pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bond.
On Clarionledger.com's StoryChat, readers expressed sorrow and intent to help other young women. Writes one (http://forum.clarionledger.com/viewtopic.php?t=4604): "Too many of our young people are dying needlessly and too early."
Certainly, the question is valid: Can't more be done to protect our young people?

(For earlier post on similar jello-writing by CL on domestic violence: http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/10/clarion-ledger-tries-to-opine-on.html

The leading newspaper in Mississippi cannot muster up the moral courage to actually take a stand and demand our criminal justice system and legislature actually do something about domestic violence. One does not expect them to actually propose some actual ideas for reducing domestic violence as that would require actual thought and research. Remember, they are reporters. However, one would think the editorial page would write more than meekly begging for something to be done at the very end of this jello-torial.

"Kingfish, aren't you being too hard on the newspaper? We all hate domestic violence but what can be done that we haven't done already?" To that line of questioning I reply that there are several things that could be done in the next six months that could greatly help fight domestic violence.

1. Change the loophole in the law that allows a judge to suspend a sentence in exchange for "counseling". The law states: "Every conviction of domestic violence may require as a condition of any suspended sentence that the defendant participate in counseling or treatment to bring about the cessation of domestic abuse. The defendant may be required to pay all or part of the cost of the counseling or treatment, in the discretion of the court. " Section 97-3-7(6) of the Mississippi Code. http://www.mscode.com/free/statutes/97/003/0007.htm

In reality what happens is too many judges use this loophole to let someone off of the hook who has beaten his wife or children. For example, in the earlier post http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/09/domestic-violence-and-divorce-in.html, a man beat his ex-wife in Rankin County. This was his second arrest for domestic violence with a different wife. He completed his anger management class and voila, he was back home. Did I mention he later lost his visitation rights to his child after he assaulted him?

Do all battered families some good and close this loophole. The legislature will soon be in session and will have an excellent opportunity to actually do something about domestic violence.

2. MAKE POLICE REPORTS PUBLIC!!! How many crimes of domestic violence would be avoided if women had the ability to see if someone they were thinking of marrying or dating had ever been arrested for domestic violence or other crimes for that matter? Many states such as Louisiana make police reports available for a small fee. It's time Mississippi followed suit and allowed for police reports to be made public. In the above example, the wife-beater coached soccer for small kids after TWO arrests for beating different wives. There was no way to obtain a copy of the police report in order to protect the children from such a violent person. Although each agency can release the reports, most choose not to do so. However, don't worry. They'll tell you they take domestic violence seriously even while they cover up for the wife beater.

3. Set up as part of the continuing education for judges visits to battered women's shelters (not in their jurisdictions) so that they can better see how serious a crime domestic violence really is. Including Sheriffs and Chiefs in such a program probably is not a bad idea. If possible (and make it volunteer only for the victims), arrange for discussions on such tours.

4. Upgrade Simple Domestic Assault from a misdemeanor to a felony. One observation made about the Spencer case was SDA was the only charge that allowed the police to pursue the complaint against George Bell, III without the victim's consent. The problem is, that charge is a misdemeanor. A thug can take a baseball bat, beat his wife within an inch of her life, then face only a misdemeanor charge after somehow pressuring her to drop the charges. Since current laws are clearly not working, it is time to change the rules and make Simple Domestic Violence a felony. See http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/09/jpd-and-heather-spencer.html

These are just a few concrete proprosals which could better fight domestic violence in Mississippi as too many people have suffered from domestic violence for too long. It is a shame the jello-torial in the newspaper lacked moral courage to step up to the plate. It should have taken advantage of the opportunity it had to use its bully pulpit to push for changes in the laws. Sadly, our jello-writers are only good at hand-wringing when it comes to domestic violence, not actually fighting it. Instead of crusaders, we get cowards.

Who is going to speak up and truly fight to get the legislature to do something about domestic violence?


Anonymous said...

Those are excellent proposals. I suggest you contact Mazie Smith at the Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Jackson for help in bringing these ideas to the Legislature. Please do not quit raising this issue.

Kingfish said...

email address for her?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS