June 17, 2013
In 2012, Wichita's municipal court handled 3600 domestic violence cases, everything from domestic battery to trespassing to telephone harassment.
On July first, everyone who is convicted in municipal court of DV will be required to pay around $150 for an assessment, plus a fee for a 24 week treatment program.
"Since the law is requiring it, they should pay for it," said Ernie Nolan. He was recently charged with DV.
That's the same concern some Wichita judges and city leaders have. The wonder who will pay if the offender can't.
"There will be a group of offenders who will not be able to comply with those terms and conditions," said Wichita City Attorney Sharon Dickgrafe. "So they will be placed into custody for some period of time."
Mayor Carl Brewer says jail fees are already high.
"Our hands are tied," said Brewer. "We don't have an opportunity for flexibility. We don't have a chance. So it's going to have an impact on us."
Sedgwick County charges $55 a day to the city for its inmates. When the new DV law goes into effect the city estimates it will cost $230,000 a year to house those offenders who can't afford the court ordered treatment.
Municipal Court Judge Bill Kehr testified against the bill, not because he doesn't think it will help, but he too worries about the expense.
"When you look at the cost involved, it get prohibited," said Kehr. "You wouldn't want to not be prosecuted because of the cost reason."
The council is set to discuss the law Tuesday.