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THE INVESTIGATORS: Audit shows state failing in key areas to prevent domestic violence

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As 2021 comes to a close, an audit shows Louisiana is failing in a couple of key areas when it comes to keeping victims of domestic violence safe.

Auditors found, among other things, there is a shortage of shelter beds available to victims, protective orders issued across the state are not consistent and intervention programs lack real oversight.

“I think it’s a really good effort on the auditor’s part to look at the entire state and to look at overall how services are being provided to either domestic violence victims or domestic violence offenders,” said EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Moore participated in the audit and calls the findings eye-opening.

“We probably need to spend more money and more time and more services to victims of crime, particularly domestic violence. We’re just not funding this enough,” he added.

In East Baton Rouge Parish alone, the numbers have skyrocketed. Last year, the number of deaths related to domestic violence broke records at 19. In 2021, that number was shattered with 35 deaths related to domestic violence. While the parish grapples with the biggest year ever for murders, about 26 percent of those murders are tied to domestic violence.

“That’s a big number,” said Moore.

Another number that’s big is the protective orders issued to keep victims safe. While the audit points out most of those orders being put in place are inconsistent, Moore said that’s not the case in EBR. The parish, at one point, issued 300 protective orders a year, and now, it issues about 300 every quarter.

“So, our judges are issuing protective orders in those cases where it’s most appropriate,” explained Moore.

Auditors also found training is not the same across the board. While members of law enforcement are required by state law to be trained in domestic violence, district attorneys and judges don’t have to meet that same standard.

Moore asked if that training is something that has happened here in East Baton Rouge.

“Yes,” he answered. “We train often on domestic violence and I know that the District Attorneys’ Association does a good job of holding seminars and training throughout the year, so we do a lot of training on our own though not mandated.”

For the most part, Moore said EBR is better off than most other pockets of the state but he added there’s still room for improvement everywhere. He believes this audit is an important tool in highlighting the work that needs to be done. “This surely is the right step,” Moore added.

The DA is hoping the findings in the audit will help lawmakers work out a plan to address those issues sooner rather than later. He believes that will not only keep victims safe but also get those offenders the help they need as well.

CLICK HERE to view the audit.

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