Panel advises on reducing domestic violence deaths

LAS VEGAS — Nevada should consider speeding up the restraining order process and offering less leniency for defendants in an effort to reduce the state’s highest-in-the-nation rate of domestic violence deaths, according to a statewide task force.

The 17 recommendations unveiled Thursday by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto include the first ever from a statewide domestic violence fatality review board established in 2011, as well as suggestions from similar boards in Clark and Washoe counties.

In a conference call, Masto said there are still no clear answers as to why Nevada tops the nation for the crime.

Nevada had a rate of 2.62 women killed by men per 100,000 residents in 2010, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center. That’s well ahead of the second-highest state, South Carolina, with a rate of 1.94 per 100,000. The national average was 1.22 deaths per 100,000 residents.

But Masto said the review boards’ recommendations could help keep violence from escalating into deadly violence.

One recommendation is to explore use of instant temporary protection orders, which could be implemented at the time of an arrest. The report said restraining orders are often most valuable immediately after a violent incident, and an instant process could prevent delays that allow time for more violence.

Such a system would require on-call judges to approve the orders, the report said.

Another suggestion involves working with judges and attorneys to prevent pleading down, which reduces the severity of a charge. Lower-level charges can lead to sentences that don’t prevent future crimes.

For example, the report said sentencing a defendant to impulse control classes is ineffective in domestic violence cases.

Task force members also recommended the state ensure reliable translators are available for 911 callers who aren’t proficient in English. Reporting a domestic violence incident is a major first step for victims, the task force said, and they may give up on the system if they’re frustrated by the language barrier.

The report was the work of fatality review boards in Clark and Washoe counties, and a third organized by Masto that encompasses areas outside the two largest counties. The task forces included representatives from law enforcement agencies, social services, nonprofits, and other organizations.

The groups took an “inch wide, mile deep” approach, examining only a few past domestic violence death cases and analyzing the events leading up to the victim’s death.


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