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Domestic violence and Florida's fatality review teams

Domestic violence murders are on the rise in the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida, according to a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The report determined that certain areas realized a 15.6 percent increase in domestic violence murders in 2009, a period in which all other crime in Florida dropped by nearly seven percent.

The report covers the counties of Wakulla and Leon counties, as well as the nearby surrounding counties. The statistics are sobering for the past decade of crimes, indicating that all intimate-relationship violent crimes are growing at an alarming rate.

In 2000, the Florida legislature successfully established the initial framework for "fatality review teams" throughout the state to study the growing problem of domestic abuse and violence. Although there are 15 teams currently in place throughout the state of Florida, including in Miami-Dade County, Leon County has yet to form a review team.

Although the idea is stated to be fundamentally solid by many advocates of domestic abuse victims, the teams often lack money. Politicians who endorsed the concept often failed to provide funding for the project, leaving the work to volunteers in many areas, who are stretched to the maximum. The only fatality review team in the state to have a designated funding source is the Miami-Dade County team.

County officials and lawmakers agree that there is still much work to be done to facilitate programs that could lower the dire statistics relating to domestic abuse. The success of the programs relies heavily on the financial support that is needed to organize and activate the review teams. Many interested parties flatly state that the review teams need to be funded in order to better increase public awareness of the growing problem of domestic violence, which targets all ages and both sexes, without regard to cultural background.


Related Resource: Tallahassee Democrat, "Our Opinion: Taking on domestic violence" Sept. 28, 2011

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