Saturday, April 27, 2013

City law punishes victims for reporting domestic violence

City law punishes victims for reporting domestic violence, With all the strides being made in America regarding the grass level support groups and legislation supportive of domestic violence awareness, it’s disheartening to hear about a city like Norristown, Pa. taking a major step backwards and coming up with a policy that actually punishes domestic violence victims for reporting instances of disorderly behavior to the police.

According to an April 26 report in Addicting Info, Norristown has a “three strikes” policy that states: “if the police are called to a residence for “disorderly behavior” three times, the residents can be evicted, as landlords and tenants are penalized for these police responses.”

A victim of this policy is Ms. Lakisha Briggs who did not report her abuse for fear of losing her home, even though her ex-boyfriend came after her with a brick, beat her, and knifed her in the neck.

Caring neighbors did report Briggs’ abuse to the authorities. And as a result, police threatened the domestic violence abuse victim with eviction, even though her injuries required she be choppered to a local hospital.

To the rescue came the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Pennsylvania, who on April 26, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Lakisha Briggs.

The ACLU charges that the ordinance is unconstitutional and "punishes innocent tenants and their landlords for requesting police assistance." ~ The Norristown Patch

Briggs said that she was shocked to find out that reaching out to the police for protection could lead to eviction for her and her family.

"Nobody should have to fear losing their home when they call for help."

The ACLU contends that laws similar to Norristown’s “three strikes” policy which fall under the headings of “crime ordinances” or “nuisance ordinances,” can be found in other U.S. cities; and that those laws:

violate the First Amendment right to petition the government, which includes calling the police

They also violate the Violence Against Women Act, which protects abuse victims from eviction.

Further, it violates the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based upon sex.

Laws similar to Norristown’s “three strikes” are opening the door for more cases like Lakisha Briggs', a woman almost killed by her abusive partner.

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