Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Domestic-violence protective orders in rural Ky. are less effective than in urban areas, study finds

A new study at the University of Kentucky concluded that protective orders sought by domestic-violence victims are less effective in rural areas, at least in Kentucky.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, found no significant difference in the levels of partner violence in rural and urban areas, but did determine that such violence was a lower priority for the justice system in rural counties. It cited increased emphasis on drug-related crimes as one possible factor, but study participants indicated the "good ol' boys" attitude is at play, and they noted that negative attitudes directed at women seeking protective orders were more prevalent in rural districts. Also, rural women were more likely to say they feared future harm, and to report a greater history of violence and threats from partners who were subjected to protective orders.

The authors determined that the orders appear to work better for victims in urban areas, and cited as one reason higher victim-blaming attitudes in rural areas. "Some officials in the justice system and some victim-service representatives do not seem to acknowledge or appreciate the danger associated with stalking or the toll it takes on victims," behavioral science professor TK Logan, one of the study's lead authors, told the Lexington Herald-Leader. (Read the study here)

The study is timely for Kentucky, in the wake of a sensational murder and state Attorney General Greg Stumbo's proposal of a bill to allow judges to use electronic monitoring devices to track domestic-violence offenders. "Amanda's Bill" is named for Amanda Ross, who was allegedly murdered by former state Rep. Steve Nunn, only son of the late Gov. Louie B. Nunn. Stumbo said it is designed to give victims a "fighting chance," reported the Herald-Leader's Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears. Nunn has pleaded not guilty. (Read more)

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