BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Baton Rouge saw a significant jump in domestic violence in 2021. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney published an annual report breaking down the numbers and highlighting the actions being taken in an effort to drop them.
“We reached a total of 36 domestic violence and or intimate partner deaths, that’s the biggest number we have ever had,” said EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore. “In other years in the past we’ve had, four, seven, so those numbers are a really big jump.”
The DA’s office launched the “Stop the Loss” initiative to identify abusers, hold offenders accountable, and provide services to correct behavior before it happens again.
“As you know, that defendant and that victim are going to get back together,” Moore said. “We are trying to give services to the victim to protect the victim, but also how can you provide services to the defendant.”
Stop the Loss team members categorize arrests in four levels — A, B, C and D.
“A” level offenders are the most serious offenders. They would prospect due the “severity or escalating quality of the offenses.” “B” level means the offenders are of serious concern. But if “B” level offenders take advantage of certain programs, the DA’s office can reduce their charges or recommend probation. “C” level usually means this is their first misdemeanor arrest.
Level A =337
Level B = 368
Level C = 1426
Level D = 293
As a condition for release, “B” level offenders must attend a 20-week group therapy course at Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge.
Doris Dawson from Family Services is a therapist and is passionate about her work. She said getting at the root of the offender’s violence is an attempt to prevent future abuse.
“I’ve changed somebody’s behavior,” said Dawson. “And that’s affecting a whole family. That could be four or five or six people, and that’s such a rewarding thing.”
As a result of the increased domestic violence arrests, the Family Services GBR has added more classes and added a course for women.
“Before the pandemic, we had only one class, and that was on a Thursday night, we have a class now Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” Dawson said.
Dawson said the therapy helps, but she wishes they had the funding to extend therapy to the entire family.
“It’s a systemic problem. It’s not just the men who have the issue, it’s a whole problem being affected by the whole family.”
And her current clients would benefit from getting therapy for at least a year. She hopes to someday receive money from the state to provide counseling these men and women need.
Moore said the 2022 numbers are just now coming in. He said the current data shows a decrease in domestic violence.
“We also believe this year, you will see a significant drop in those numbers,” Moore said. “Good indication that at this point that our numbers will be much less.”