Summer 1997 Home   Newsletters

Fall 1997


President's Message (Jean Aoki)
Tom Grey of NCALG Coming to Hawaii
Education Committee Report
Web Page
State Board Actions
League Local News - Hawaii County
League Local News - Honolulu
League Local News - Kauai
National Domestic Violence Conference (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Cindy Spencer Receives Unsung Hero Award '97
National Convention
Reflections on Hawaii (Mary Anne Raywid)
Making Democracy Work Campaign Finance Reform (Toni Worst)
New York State Con Con Vote
Thank You!
Meet Your Board
Charter Schools (insert)
Hawaii's Bill of Rights (insert) (Ann Feder Lee)

National Domestic Violence Conference

League attended the Seventh Annual National District Attorney's Conference on Domestic Violence... Beyond Survival in Los Angeles October 12, 1997. 1200 attendees from 51 states and some Indian tribes came together to share their programs and ideas for dealing with violence against women in their communities. The keynote speaker was Charles J. Hynes, the district attorney from New York City. a survivor of violence in the home, he has been aggressively prosecuting domestic violence cases since 1990.

Following the keynote speech, everyone broke off into groups by discipline (prosecutors, law enforcement, advocates) to identify and discuss critic issues. In our advocates group, it was dismaying to listen to young advocates speak passionately of the "real victims" being the children. Women who are beaten are every bit as much "real victims" as are their children. Women and children should not be pitted against each other in this struggle for a safe home.

Many things we have come to understand about battered women were reiterated at this conference. The fact that women die when they try to leave relationships was clear when Arkansas told of 25 deaths - 23 when women tried to leave. The need fog immediate advocacy and safety for women was clearly voiced by Sarah Buell, who said a good prosecutor's office puts victim safety first, prosecution second, and has twice as many advocates as prosecutors. Sarah maintains there is not something wrong with victims not testifying but something wrong with the system that doesn't made her feel safe enough to testify.

We will continue to try to bring this kind of understanding to our own prosecutors office. In an interview we had with Peter Carlisle he felt that public advocates in his office should be working toward the goal of getting a successful prosecution and only "private advocates have the luxury of doing what they think is right for the single victim."

We were happy to share our court monitoring report in a court watch workshop. Because court monitoring is quantitative data, instead of anecdotal data, everyone agreed that monitoring data is more persuasive when trying to build a case for change, to influence public policy, and to educate the public.

Police Sgt. Mark Wynn of Nashville, Tennessee's Domestic Violence Division, after asking everyone if they had overcrowded jails, (to which everyone answered yes,) stated that he feels domestic violence is the fuel that creates the guys that fill our jails. "Twenty or thirty years ago we didn't do the right thing" meaning - we didn't punish appropriately and deal with the violence in our homes. In his jurisdiction over the last three years, they have reduced the domestic violence murder rate by 50%.

Suzanne Meisenzahl
Chair, Violence Prevention Committee

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