Target: Kansas State Legislature
Goal: Protect domestic violence victims from life-threatening strangulation.
The Kansas state legislature must pass a pending bill that would increase the criminal penalty for strangulation, a crime traditionally and inaccurately considered less harmful and destructive than other types of assault.
In the past, states viewed the crime of strangulation as a misdemeanor only deserving of mild criminal liability (e.g. fines, maximum one year jail sentence). The fact that visible injuries may not occur after strangulation often leads people to underappreciate its brutality and often leads to ill-informed criminal policies that include lenient punishments for this crime. However, research demonstrates the truly vicious nature of strangulation, the foreseeable effects of this crime on its victims and how policy changes are urgently necessary.
Strangulation, overwhelming perpetrated by men, is a method used to physically and psychologically exert control and power over a woman. Victims can become unconscious within seconds and death can occur within only minutes of being strangled. Despite lacking visible injuries, victims can experience breathing and swallowing problems, vocal issues, neurological issues such paralysis, or even die days or weeks after being strangled due to inflammation of the esophagus. The deleterious psychological effects of strangulation include depression, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder.
More terrifyingly, victims of strangulation are seven times more likely to be killed by their perpetrator. Criminal codes increasing penalties for strangulation translates to proper punishment for these perpetrators (felony convictions and substantial prison sentences) as well as lowering the number of deaths caused by future violence.
By signing the petition below you will help urge the Kansas State Legislature to ensure that the criminal punishment for strangulation fits the crime.
Dear Kansas State Legislature,
Strangulation is a felony in at least 37 states around the nation. Kansas now lags behind most of the nation on this issue. The state legislature must pass the bill that would increase the penalty for strangulation from a misdemeanor to a felony aggravated battery.
Kansas’ criminal code cannot avoid treating strangulation as the brutal crime it is – including one that can lead to devastating physical injuries from verbal problems and paralysis to death. Women, in particular domestic violence victims, are the most prevalent victims of strangulation and require the maximum amount of protection from this crime. Medical consensus is that a victim of strangulation is 700% more likely to be killed by the same perpetrator. This statistic should shock the conscience and translate directly into changes in Kansas’ criminal policy. Strangulation strongly indicates whether the perpetrator will engage in more extreme, homicidal acts against the victim in the future. One way to protect these victims from preventable deaths is to increase the penalty for strangulation to that of a felony, which carries severe mandatory incarceration periods.
I am urging you to take action to ensure that this bill passes the state legislature and that Kansas throws its uninformed and harmful policy of treating strangulation crimes as mere misdemeanors instead of violent felonies into the dustbin of history.
[YOUR NAME HERE]
Photo: Pixabay user – Nemo