Women continue to be more likely to die at the hands of a man in Louisiana than in most other states, according to a study released Monday by a national nonprofit that studies trends in gun-related crime.
The report by the Violence Policy Center says that 45 women in Louisiana were killed by men in 2012, a rate of 1.92 per 100,000 women, which puts it in fourth place nationally behind Alaska, South Carolina and Oklahoma, according to homicide data from 2012, the most recent data available.
That number is up from 2011 when it ranked ninth and 39 women were killed by men, which was a rate of 1.67 per 100,000 women.
The center has issued a report annually for 17 years, and Louisiana has been in the “top 10” of the list for all but one year, including holding the top ranking in 2007, third-place in 2009 and fourth-place in 2010 and 2012.
The distinction means the state still has a long way to go in corralling the violence, domestic violence advocates say.
“We would love to eliminate domestic violence period, but decreasing the domestic violence homicide rate is the number one priority,” said Judy Benitez, executive director of the Iris Domestic Violence Center in Baton Rouge.
The center uses the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report figures for its report. The only cases cited in the center’s report are when a woman is killed by one man.
The report is released every year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The report says this study has special significance this year as it marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act that strengthened laws and established services for victims.
Beth Meeks, executive director for the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said since the law was passed, domestic violence across the country has gone down 63 percent.
“So there’s no darn reason for it be going up in Louisiana,” she said.
She pointed to new policies for combating domestic violence in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Monroe that include the immediate arrest of offenders instead of issuing misdemeanor summons, having dedicated dockets for domestic violence cases and sending offenders to the domestic violence counseling as steps in the right direction.
“The key to bringing that number down is for other communities to see those processes that Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Monroe and use those in their communities,” Meeks said.
Benitez said the numbers could be worse if the study included other categories of domestic violence homicides, including murder-suicides, killings in which a man killed his partner and children, or instances in which a man killed a woman and anyone else there at the time.
The latter includes the murders of Jamie “Chloe” Davenport, 33, and James Ledell Brown Sr., 44, on May 25, 2012, in Baker by Davenport’s estranged husband, Alfred Scales. A jury in 2013 convicted Scales on two counts of second-degree murder.
Three domestic murder-suicides in East Baton Rouge Parish that occurred in 2012 were also not counted.
“If they had to look at all of the domestic violence homicides, I think it would push us above some of those states,” Benitez said.
Meeks said that anywhere from a third to half of the domestic violence homicides in the state are not counted each year, so this year’s tally is probably closer to 65.
“Last year’s data set was missing a whole bunch of stuff, so we were probably ranked much higher than ninth,” Meeks said.
In 2012, six women were allegedly killed by men in East Baton Rouge Parish, according to statistics compiled by the Advocate. At least seven women in the parish were allegedly killed by men in 2013, including two in murder-suicides.
Three women died so far this year at the hands of men, according to authorities.
In 40 of the 45 cases in Louisiana featured in the report in which the relationship between the victim and offender was known, 37 women were killed by someone they knew. Of those 37 victims, 19 were either wives, ex-wives, girlfriends or ex-girlfriends of the offenders.
Thirty women were killed with guns, four were killed with knives and seven were killed by blunt force trauma. The cause of death in the other cases in unknown.
“While this study does not focus solely on domestic violence homicide or guns, it provides a stark reminder that domestic violence and guns make a deadly combination,” the study says. “Firearms are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes. Instead, they are all too often used to inflict harm on the very people they were intended to protect.”
Across the country, 1,706 women were killed by a man in 2012, and of those victims, 93 percent knew their killer and 52 percent were killed with guns in the cases in which the cause of death has been identified, the Violence Policy Center reported.
Meeks said recent laws passed by the Legislature will help in the long term, but the fruits of those laws, including stiffer gun laws for domestic violence offenders, will not be visible until 2016 or 2017.
“If we could get guns from known domestic violence abusers, we could limit the homicide rate,” Meeks said.
Women killed by men:
How Louisiana ranks
NATIONAL KILLED PER
2006 5th 1.97
2007 1st 2.53
2008 12th 1.62
2009 3rd 1.99
2010 4th 1.86
2011 9th 1.67
2012 4th 1.92
Source: Violence Policy Center