Last night in class, one of my students asked me if I was aware that Topeka, Kansas had decriminalized domestic violence, to save the cost of prosecution.
Who was it that decried a society in which people know “the cost of everything and the value of nothing?” How insane has criminal justice policy become when we spend upwards of 40 billion dollars every year on a drug war to (ostensibly) prevent people from harming themselves, but we won’t spend money to prosecute people who harm others?
What do these examples say about our cultural norms? One possibility: our puritan impulses to insure that our neighbors are behaving “morally” drive policies from blue laws to censorship to alcohol and drug prohibition; while a still-lingering sexism convinces us that a man sometimes has to “assert authority” over his wife? (Never mind that men can also be the victims of domestic violence).
Social priorities really come into focus when money is tight.