Righting wrongs against domestic violence victims

Nancy Smith Former Director
May 13, 2010

When one of my colleagues read Vanessa O’Connell’s article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal describing the practices that have brought national attention to Scott Kessler, chief of the Queens (NYC) district attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, she contacted me to see if I found his aggressive techniques to be at odds with the philosophy of Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS).

She was surprised to learn the answer: Not at all.

CVS’s work is centered in victim safety and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. Kessler’s trademark approach, known as “evidence-based prosecution,” does not equate to victim safety being compromised in most cases.

In fact, for years, advocates in the field of violence against women have been pushing for evidence-based prosecution. Victims are often pressured to recant, but work in the field suggests that they would actually prefer that the prosecutor move forward. Evidence-based prosecution allows this to happen.