In a state that consistently ranks among the deadliest for women at the hands of men, a promising pattern is emerging in domestic killings in at least one corner of Louisiana, advocates say.
Northeast Louisiana has seen a 70 percent drop in domestic homicides since 2011 compared with the period from 1997 to 2011, Beth Meeks, the executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said in a news release.
The organization coordinates efforts to end domestic violence and analyzes homicide data throughout the state.
In the years 1997-2011, the region averaged a little more than six domestic killings per year, but that number has fallen to about two deaths a year, according to LCADV.
“This is a significant breakthrough. This is not temporary or accidental. It is an understatement to call it impressive,” Meeks said in a statement.
Though the area doesn’t account for a large segment of the state’s population, northeast Louisiana’s strides in curbing domestic killings can become a blueprint for the rest of the state, Meeks said. The LCADV defines the region as Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East and West Carroll, Franklin, La Salle, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Tensas parishes. Domestic killings could involve women killing men in self-defense or the murders of bystanders during a dispute, but the majority of cases in LCADV’s count are of men killing women.
Meeks said the decrease is owed to efforts supported by LCADV and The Wellspring, a northeast Louisiana domestic violence service provider, and the use of specialized prosecutors, accelerated dockets for domestic violence cases, victimless prosecutions and intervention programs for abusers.
She said the elimination of preset bail for domestic violence offenders, meaning defendants go in front of a judge before they can be released, has also played a role.
Louisiana has the fourth-highest rate in the nation of women being killed by men, according to a study released in September by the Violence Policy Center, using 2013 data. The state, in which 1.99 per 100,000 females are killed by males, trails only South Carolina, Alaska and New Mexico, according to the VPC. Northeast Louisiana has a rate of 0.63 per 100,000, about 40 percent lower than the national average of 1.09 deaths of women per 100,000, LCADV says.
Follow Maya Lau on Twitter, @mayalau.