By Joe Pagonakis
CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County officials report the county is number one in Ohio in domestic violence cases with nearly 7,500 in 2018, but they hope a new High-Risk Domestic Violence Court and proposed state legislation will make a difference.
Cuyahoga County administrative Judge John J. Russo announced the court received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and appointed Judge Sherrie Miday to oversee the docket.
Judge Miday told News 5 the county needs to do more in address the more than 1,000 felony domestic violence cases plaguing the county annually.
“There’s always been a gap at the felony level, because we don’t give these cases the attention that they deserve,” Miday said.
“There are 15 to 17 domestic violence homicides a year in Cuyahoga County” she said. “That’s unacceptable.”
“Victims who suffer strangulation at the hands of their intimate partners is seven-and-a-half times more likely to die by that intimate partner,” Miday said.
The new court will take 50 of the most potentially-volatile domestic cases every year, dramatically increasing the monitoring of those cases with specific domestic risk assessments and staff training, Miday said.
“We’re going to employ a pre-trial probation officer on this docket; that officer will work in conjunction with the bond commissioner to set appropriate bonds,” Miday said. “We’ll make sure that the bond conditions are being complied with, make sure a protect order is being taken seriously, and make sure that a no-contact order is being taken seriously.”
Meanwhile, at the state level, state Senator Nickie Antonio (D-District 23) is working on Senate Bill 43, which would make domestic violence cases that involve strangulation a felony.
If passed, the measure would allow the sheriff’s department to take weapons from repeat offenders, if they have a protection order against them.
Miday said the new court and the tougher state bill are just the beginning in trying to save lives.
“If we’re able to break into and release that control and change that cognitive behavior, we have a chance, and we can save lives,” Miday said.
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By Joe Pagonakis