Australia’s Gold Coast is about to get its first dedicated family violence courts in Queensland and Victoria, modeled after Dallas County Judge Rob Canas’ Family Violence Court #10 in Dallas, where no offender has committed another serious offense since he was elected six years ago.
In this Sunday Night in Australia broadcast, reporter Melissa Doyle interviewed Judge Canas and one of the success stories – Kevin Osborn – who has rebuilt his life and family after being thrown a lifeline by Judge Canas. Sunday Night cameras were the first allowed into Dallas County Criminal Court 10 where Judge Roberto Canas handles 250 cases a week. She explained the unique zero-tolerance initiative combines specialized police units, trained counselors and a dedicated domestic violence court headed by “a trailblazing young judge.” She said family homicides have fallen from 31 to three since 2012.
In return for a guilty plea, Judge Canas offers offenders a suspended sentence, dependent upon them successfully completing a six-month Batterer’s Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP). The men avoid long sentences but, if they fail to complete the intense counseling and anger management sessions, they go to prison.
We know Judge Canas. He’s a fine judge and person, who really cares about helping to reduce family violence.
Doyle said tough new protocols for the Dallas police also mean domestic violence cases are treated as a top priority – handled by seasoned detectives.
Unfortunately the Dallas Police Force has lost hundreds of officers and detectives in the past year so the family violence unit will have a hard time keeping up.
By the end of this month, Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata recently told CBS-11 TV News that 72 Dallas Police officers will leave: 70 percent of them are retiring and the other 30 percent are going to make more money at other departments. Most officers are leaving as a result of a crisis at the police and fire pension fund. He added that Dallas isn’t spending enough money to keep them.