This case highlights the gap in response when a violent person informs someone (through words and action) that a murder will happen.
The sister of 38-year-old Teri Lee, the woman gunned down by an ex-boyfriend early Friday morning in West Lakeland Township, Minn., is calling for new legislation to protect victims of domestic violence. "My sister pleaded with the judge not to allow him out," said Vicki Seliger Swenson, the victim's sister, referring to Steven Allen Van Keuren, who is alleged to have murdered both Lee and Tim Hawkinson at her home on Friday. "She made it clear, he was a threat. He made it very clear, he's got nothing to loose," said Swenson, who maintains the law-enforcement and judicial system meant to protect victims of domestic violence failed tragically in her sister's case.
According to police, Van Keuren attempted to kill Lee in July by attacking her with two butcher knives.
In the most severe cases, orders of protection simply aren't enough. I'm not suggesting that every man who threatens murder should be treated as if he's done what he's threatening to do. What I am suggesting is that our legal system take these threats as seriously as they would if someone threatened to assassinate a politician or if that person fit the traditional mold of terrorist.
When somone plots a terrorist attack, our law enforcement agencies have no problem making arrests before the planned attack has been completed. That means there is legal precident for arresting and charging people with a crime who are planning to kill one or more people but who haven't yet killed anybody.
Too many women are being murdered by their husbands or other men in their lives while the system sits on its hands and waits. Too many men get away with terrorizing the women and children in their lives because too many people feel that the problem is a relationship problem rather an act of terrorism. Here's an example of that from this case:
Why is this obvious? Why is it so easy to assume that part of the responsibility for this man's violence belongs to his victim? He may have viewed her as something that belonged to him and decided if he couldn't have her, nobody could. Her only mistake may have been not recognizing how dangerous this man was before she became his target.
Yet, it is obvious that something happened to sour the relationship and provoke Van Keuren to strike back lethally against Lee. (emphasis mine)
Neither does it cut it to say something like, "If someone is determined to kill you, that's what they are going to do and there is nothing we can do about it."
We have a duty to find ways to intervene before a planned murder and not wait until the attack has begun and someone calls 911. It may seem obvious, but one of those ways is to communicate -- with no waffling -- that violence is wrong no matter what the victim has done to make the other person angry, no matter how possessive someone feels about others.
If the man who killed 2 people has a troubled history that doesn't excuse his actions. What it should do is remind us that having social programs in place to help those who are troubled isn't a waste of taxpayer dollars.
If this suspect lives after being shot by police, he will cost taxpayers plenty of money.
Often it's cheaper to help people (future perps and potential victims) than it is to do nothing but be tough on crime. Unfortunately, some people oppose prevention programs and counseling for offenders because they view those programs as being soft on crime.
The hard liners also blame the intervention attempts for all criminals who aren't diverted from criminal activity. But if a system reduces crime significantly it shouldn't be thrown out because it fails to eliminate all of the crime that would happen without the intervention program.
Technorati tags: domestic violence crime prevention politics orders for protection