Black and Hispanic women make up about 25% of the state’s female population but represent about 53% of domestic violence arrest cases for adult females in 2020, Judicial Branch data show. It’s a disparity that is playing out in courtrooms across the state, according to public defenders who contend that Black and brown women often face harsher penalties and longer court proceedings to gain a favorable outcome. “This is real, it is very real,” said Jassette Henry, a senior assistant public defender in New Britain and a tri-chair of the Racial Justice and Cultural Competency Committee within the state’s Division of Public Defender Services. “The question is, what are we going to do about it?”
“Black people are overrepresented in arrests,” Henry said. “It’s not surprising that Black women are getting arrested in a domestic violence incident at a higher rate.
Katherine Verano is wrestling with an 830% increase in costs compared with last year for hoteling victims of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. After a quiet period during the first months of the pandemic, when much of the state was locked down, domestic violence shelters started running at about 150% capacity during the summer months. When providers ran out of room for social distancing, clients had to be placed in hotels and fed. It’s been a complex time, said Verano, the executive director of Safe Futures, a New London-based nonprofit dedicated to providing counseling, services and shelter to victims of domestic violence in 21 southeastern towns. Safe Futures’ budget for hoteling clients has increased steadily this year.
Editor’s note: C-HIT debuts a monthly column by writer Susan Campbell. Susan, who worked at the Hartford Courant for more than 25 years, is an accomplished author having published two books including, “Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl,” which won the 2010 Connecticut Book Award for memoirs. We are pleased she’s joining us – writing on issues of health and safety. You’re welcome to weigh in.
While teen pregnancy rates have declined nationwide and in Connecticut, statistics and interviews show an intergenerational cycle of children-bearing-children puts Hispanic teens in Connecticut at risk of giving birth once, or even twice, before their twenties.