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Detention Decision Risks Women's Lives

29 October 2004

Judge Risks Lives of Women With Home Detention Decision

A Christchurch judge who has allowed a violent man to apply for home detention is putting the lives of a woman and children at risk.

Women's Refuge and Stopping Violence Services have criticised judges and Parole Boards who give leave for men who have been convicted of assaulting their partners to serve their sentence in the homes of their victims.

A strong message was sent to judges and parole boards in May this year when this issue was discussed in Parliament and MPs expressed dismay that home detention was an option for wifebeaters.

However a Christchurch judge today granted leave for a man who had seriously assaulted his pregnant partner to apply for home detention.

The man had bashed the 36 week pregnant woman to the ground, threatened her with a knife and caused her to go into premature labour. He refused to call for an ambulance though she screamed for help.

The judge sentenced the man to one year in jail.

"Judges and parole boards who allow violent offenders to serve out their time at home with the partners they have assaulted are irresponsible and will ultimately have blood on their hands if women and children are killed during home detention," National Collective of Independent Women's Refuge spokesperson Sheryl Hann said.

"We know that when there is a serious assault like this there has usually been a history of abuse and it's not likely to change without intense intervention.

"If he gets home detention, his partner will effectively be his jailor. Courts are abdicating their responsibility for care and protection of children and victims of violence by sending an abusive man back to the house with his victims, Brian Gardner, national manager, National Network of Stopping Violence Services, said.

"If he had assaulted his employer he wouldn't be sent back there to live 24 hours a day, Mr Gardner said."


Ms Hann said Women might agree to home detention because they are fearful of retaliation if they don't. Victims feel tremendous guilt after their partner has been arrested and convicted, the reality of the violence fades and they feel hopeful that things will be different but this is not borne by statistics.

However when things get stressful and tensions rise women and children are going to be the targets. Who is he going to take it out on when he can't leave the house?

It is inconceivable that leave for home detention could be granted in this case when the judge had identified that the man has "a bad temper" "little insight" and "little skill to manage relationships".

Judges need to realise that domestic violence is a life and death situation and that home detention should never be allowed under any circumstances.

One person is murdered every 12 and a half days in New Zealand as a result of domestic violence.

ENDS


From: "Stephanie Edmond" To: Subject: chch home detention Date sent: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 15:15:46 +1300
Media Release - Christchurch Press 29 October 2004

A Christchurch judge who has allowed a violent man to apply for home detention is putting the lives of a woman and children at risk.

Women's Refuge and Stopping Violence Services have criticised judges and Parole Boards who give leave for men who have been convicted of assaulting their partners to serve their sentence in the homes of their victims.

A strong message was sent to judges and parole boards in May this year when this issue was discussed in Parliament and MPs expressed dismay that home detention was an option for wifebeaters.

However a Christchurch judge today granted leave for a man who had seriously assaulted his pregnant partner to apply for home detention.

The man had bashed the 36 week pregnant woman to the ground, threatened her with a knife and caused her to go into premature labour. He refused to call for an ambulance though she screamed for help.

The judge sentenced the man to one year in jail.

"Judges and parole boards who allow violent offenders to serve out their time at home with the partners they have assaulted are irresponsible and will ultimately have blood on their hands if women and children are killed during home detention," National Collective of Independent Women's Refuge spokesperson Sheryl Hann said.

"We know that when there is a serious assault like this there has usually been a history of abuse and it's not likely to change without intense intervention.

"If he gets home detention, his partner will effectively be his jailor. Courts are abdicating their responsibility for care and protection of children and victims of violence by sending an abusive man back to the house with his victims, Brian Gardner, national manager, National Network of Stopping Violence Services, said.

"If he had assaulted his employer he wouldn't be sent back there to live 24 hours a day, Mr Gardner said."


Ms Hann said Women might agree to home detention because they are fearful of retaliation if they don't. Victims feel tremendous guilt after their partner has been arrested and convicted, the reality of the violence fades and they feel hopeful that things will be different but this is not borne by statistics.

However when things get stressful and tensions rise women and children are going to be the targets. Who is he going to take it out on when he can't leave the house?

It is inconceivable that leave for home detention could be granted in this case when the judge had identified that the man has "a bad temper" "little insight" and "little skill to manage relationships".

Judges need to realise that domestic violence is a life and death situation and that home detention should never be allowed under any circumstances.

One person is murdered every 12 and a half days in New Zealand as a result of domestic violence.

ENDS


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