Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Nuisance

Another article appeared in the paper today about the ACLU's lawsuit against Norristown that challenges the constitutionality of ordinances such as the one called the "three strikes rule".  This ordinance was put into place with the intention of protecting the peace and order of the neighborhood by forcing landlords to lose their license if there are multiple calls to the police for that property.  Unfortunately, in the case of Lakisha Briggs, she was evicted because the domestic violence relationship she was in caused her to call over and over again despite the restraining order against her abuser.

There are many things at work in this case.  First and foremost, domestic situations are very tricky things to deal with.  For a short time, I did work with a domestic violence support center doing hotline crisis calls. During the training, as well as my personal experiences, it was stated that domestic violence relationships go in cycles.  After the crisis is over the victim takes back the abuser because the abuser makes promises that it will never happen again.  The couple enters a "honeymoon phase" and things are great until the next time. It was therefore during my time on council before that I argued the ordinance should be exempt for cases of domestic violence.

In every situation there are two sides to every story.  I do not know the amount of times the police were called to that property so I cannot say whether I side with Ms. Briggs or the municipality.  I can say that the municipality's intention was to give some quality of life to neighborhoods by helping alleviate as many nuisance properties as possible. In cases of domestic violence, one simply cannot predict what will happen and to legislate an ordinance such as this one without taking that into consideration can only bring difficulty. I only hope that during the time when the municipality is not enforced the ordinance due to the lawsuit Council does the right thing and re-address the law.

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