Domestic violence unit in city to expand

Prosecutors get $101,780 from state to hire staff

October 15, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

As part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Baltimore state's attorney's office announced yesterday that it has received funding to expand its domestic violence division as well as a loan of a dozen cellular telephones that will be available for victims' protection.

Prosecutors were given $101,780 by the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, which will help them hire one prosecutor and one victim services worker. The 12 cellular phones are on loan from Verizon for a year and will be given to victims who may need to make emergency calls to police or a women's shelter.

"We want to make sure victims of domestic violence know what resources are available to them," said State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy.

She made the announcement in Courtroom 5 at the Eastside District Courthouse, where she was surrounded by city and state representatives.

The announcement took place in Courtroom 5 because all District Court domestic violence cases are heard there, said Videtta A. Brown, chief domestic violence prosecutor for the office.

"This is a very busy courtroom," Brown said. "Sometimes, it is a very violent courtroom."

She said cases are difficult to prosecute because defendants sometimes intimidate victims, and victims often change their stories. About 95 percent of defendants are men, Brown said.

The Domestic Violence Division was created in 1983 and deals with as many as 70 cases a day on the docket. It handles 12,000 criminal cases per year, and about 400 violations of protection and peace orders.

The unit has five prosecutors, one victim-witness interviewer and one docket coordinator in the unit.

The prosecutors work in the only five-day domestic violence docket in Maryland, according to the state's attorney's office.

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