this past monday, i was with my husband, our nephew, his girlfriend & his father in a nj court room, waiting nearly 3 hours for our nephew to be called & for that particular county's prosecutor to advise the judge that there was no objection on the state's end that our nephew have his weapons returned. (my husband's family are long time hunter's - not for trophy).
about 2 months ago, our nephew's ex girlfriend was somehow able to get a restraining order on him. not because he'd ever done anything in the least bit violent towards her, but because she was pissed at him for breaking up with her. last month in court, the judge found the grounds under which the complaint was filed by her to be unfounded and it was dismissed and the restraining order disolved.
i was furious when i'd first heard about the whole thing.
over 2 years ago, i was at my former town's police dept at 2:30am, with a police officer trying to get a judge on the phone to issue a temp restraining order against my ex - he'd been at the house several times that night and i could see him sneaking around on the property - he'd been stalking me at work, stalking myself & my husband (seperately and together) and stalking my mother - the officer knew my ex and told the judge that there was a history of domestic violence and told him that he knew my ex and that there was something not right and that the temp restraining order needed to be issued.
the judge told me that because my ex had not done anything physically violent or tried to do anything physically violent to me, my husband or my mother that he wasn't going to issue the order. i told him it was a joke - i was trying to prevent it from getting that far. he told me i could petition the court myself to get an order. the officer apologized to me the entire way home & told me to call him if anything else happened. i was so upset and let down, i never did petition the court & thankfully, nothing ever came of it after that night.
so, here i am, in this court room monday, listening to all these "dissolving restraining order" cases (1 of which, for sure, he's going to beat the tar out of her again - she walked out with her head down, he walked out with his head held high) and "violating restraining order" cases and the floowing hit me:
this is why people die and more times than not, it's women and children.
every man there for "1st offense violation of restraining order" got 12 months probation to be released that day. THAT'S IT! what the f?! 2nd offense, 2nd offense, they were warned, is mandatory 30 days in jail - at least they have that now, i guess! my brother in law violated his restraining order at least a dozen times about 10 years ago and never set foot in jail.
one man was already serving 364 days with about 6 months left to go, sent his ex wife a letter which was his 3rd violation of the restraining order and his sentence?! 120 days to run concurrent with his current sentence! (not tagged onto the end of it!?) and the prosecutor advised the judge that his ex wife wanted to be notified of his release and is still in fear of him and always will be!
another was DISMISSED because the victim was too scared to appear in court and go ahead with the charges!
one of the 1st offenders had actually violated his order 2 or 3 previous times, but because she told him it was ok to come over, she dropped the charges, but when he showed up drunk & violent without an invite, she decided to follow through! so he got 12 months probation & released that day!
again: THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DIE - THIS IS WHY WOMEN & CHILDREN DIE.
i've seen it so many times on the news where women have restraining orders and they keep begging for the police & court to help them and they end up dead. courts/laws/judges/prosecutors/lawyers must be the same as here every place else in this country when it comes to this.
ENFORCEMENT OF RESTRAINING ORDERS AS WE KNOW IT, AS IT STANDS TODAY, IS A CRUEL, SAD JOKE.
i don't know how it can be changed, but, i sure as hell am going to look into doing so. i may not be in those shoes anymore, but, i will never forget how it felt.