April 18, 2024

Eye On Illinois: Reducing domestic violence a momentous societal task

Jayden Perkins should be alive today, and no amount of resignations or policy changes will undo the terrible tragedy of his murder.

Perkins, 11, died while trying to protect his mother from an attack in their home. The alleged perpetrator, according to Capitol News Illinois, was released from Stateville Correctional Center after an Illinois Prisoner Review Board hearing.

The board voted to release the suspect from custody after he’d allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend, Perkins’ mother, in January. Before that, he was on electronic monitoring after serving prison time for separate domestic violence charges, and was sent back to Stateville while those allegations were investigated.

There are many other details, excellent reporting from several media outlets and politicians seeking to capitalize on tragedy. Two PRB members resigned, one who conducted the suspect’s hearing and the board’s longtime chairman. Nothing written, said or done going forward can reverse the past, a statement both painfully obvious and yet too-often unacknowledged while navigating such difficult conversations.

While it’s important to scrutinize the PRB process – and in so doing, acknowledge that body’s broader responsibilities – it’s also fair to consider this tragic outcome in the larger context of domestic violence, both in terms of the many times intervention might’ve been possible before this murder as well as the thousands of other situations that might spiral to a similar terrible destination.

The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports one in three women and one in seven men are domestic violence victims. Its website (ilcadv.org) makes the case that even if those numbers aren’t motivating, even if you count yourself among those free of the direct influence of domestic violence, the way this scourge ripples through society demands all of us take it seriously.

Mental strain inflicted upon witnesses is significant, as are chronic health problems visited upon victims able to move past an abuser’s direct physical injuries, with massive upticks in risk for heart disease, stroke and asthma. Those conditions significantly impact an already-burdened health care system, with similar dynamics affecting criminal justice and law enforcement obligations.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data sheet on intimate partner violence estimates “The lifetime economic cost associated with medical services for IPV-related injuries, lost productivity from paid work, criminal justice and other costs, is $3.6 trillion. The cost of IPV over a victim’s lifetime was $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men.”

Advocates wield these staggering statistics to seek reform. They also deploy harrowing individual stories of survivors and victims in attempts to cut through the data and focus on humanity. That we never seem to run out of either speaks to the momentous task ahead.

The tragic past cannot be reversed. Still, a better future remains possible.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.