A program designed to limit domestic violence and abuse in Maryland is
making inroads in other nearby states, with the city of Pittsburgh adopting
new provisions to assist victims. Official reports show that the city
will begin to implement a program based on the Maryland Lethality Assessment
Program in December. That program is designed to measure the potential
for a partner accused of
domestic abuse to commit another crime, including homicide or other assaults. After that
assessment is complete, the victims may be put in contact with representatives
from a women’s center, who can help them learn more about their
legal options and shelter availability.
News reports indicate that the program was attached to legislation passed
in honor of a 33-year-old woman who recently died in the city. The woman
had called 911 just one day before she was found shot dead in her house.
The woman’s 51-year-old boyfriend later admitted to killing her;
he included that information in a suicide note, killing himself during
a police standoff in January 2013.
Advocates who strive to prevent domestic abuse say that the program is
likely to improve the relationship between abuse victims and service providers.
This program is far less focused on vilifying the alleged criminal; instead,
victims learn more about empowerment and gain the confidence they need
to leave dangerous situations. Domestic violence may be able to stop without
the issuance of a protective order in these cases, as long as victims
are able to quickly get away from dangerous, negative situations.
Individuals accused of domestic abuse do not have any reason to fear additional
prosecution under provisions of the Maryland Lethality Assessment Program.
In fact, this type of initiative is focused on helping the alleged victims,
not vilifying the alleged abusers. Accused abusers who are facing threats
of protective orders or temporary restraining orders may benefit from
a consultation with a qualified defense attorney, who can help them learn
more about their legal rights and options.