Earlier this month I had the privilege to present on behalf of the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association a $9,000 check to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. This check represents the proceeds from the 4th annual 7k Run to Remember, held in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. I am the founder and race director for this event. I created this event because I am passionate about seeking justice and knew I could bring my community of runners with me for this important cause. I am extremely proud of the money we raise each year to support victims of domestic violence. I am also proud of my community that comes out in force to show their support for victims and surviving family members of loved ones whose lives were lost to violent crimes.
During my tenure as Howard County State’s Attorney, domestic violence will continue to be a priority area for me in the courtroom and in the community. When domestic violence victims call the police for the first time, chances are this was not the first incident of abuse. The prior abuse may have been physical, sexual and emotional. I will be make sure that my prosecutors are out there in the community providing education to help identify and put a stop to domestic violence.
Domestic violence lurks beneath the surface of every community. It hides within homes. It destroys families. It scars children. It intimidates victims. Sometimes it even kills. We need to continue to work together to put an end to domestic violence in Howard County. My message is clear that we will not accept violence of any kind on our streets or in our homes.
For each of the four years I coordinated this event, members of Christine Jarrett’s family participated in the 7k Run to Remember in her memory. Christine disappeared from her Elkridge home in January of 1991. Twenty-two years later I prosecuted her husband for her murder. During that trial there was testimony of domestic violence inflicted upon Christine during the marriage. Her family, known at the event as Team Christine, participates to remember her and to raise awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence in the community. Similarly, friends and co-workers of ReAnna Greene participated for the second year in a row to honor her memory. She was a shock trauma nurse murdered in Baltimore City during an act of domestic violence. These senseless killings have to stop.
Victims of any crime feel nervous at the prospect of testifying in court. For domestic violence victims, it can be terrifying. They must face their abuser while enduring attacks on their honesty. They hear the defense argue that the crime never happened or that everything is their fault. Throughout my career I have been awed by the strength and courage domestic violence victims bring with them to our office and to the courthouse.
As State’s Attorney I will make sure that our domestic violence prosecutors and victim advocates receive all of the support and resources that they need to win the battle against domestic violence. Under my leadership, they will continue to take a victim-oriented approach to handling these important cases. Victims will continue to be contacted as soon as we learn they were abused. We will assess each victim’s needs individually while prioritizing their safety. In this field, our work outside of the courtrooms is as important as what we do in the courthouse. Whether it’s ensuring that we are aggressively fighting for abusers to remain in jail without bond before trial, or guiding a victim through the process of obtaining a protective order, my goal is to keep the victim safe.
As a result of recommendations made by the Howard County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, currently led by Howard County ASA Amy Hott, arresting officers, prosecutors, advocates, and sheriff’s deputies all work closely together to make sure that the detention center prevents abusers from reaching out to the victims from inside the jail. Only through this type of continued collaboration can we seek to improve awareness, education and our community’s response to domestic violence.
This time next year I will stand once again with Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence President Inga James to turn over the proceeds from the 5th Annual 7k Run to Remember. Victims of violent crime should know that they are not just case numbers. They are my reason for going to work every day.