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Two Sentenced To Domestic Violence Program Are Changing Their Lives
Updated October 15, 2014 7:45 AM
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(UNDATED) - The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Problem Solving Court is taking steps to break the cycle of violence.

Two Mitchell men, who are participating in the court, are taking those steps. Both men were arrested on charges of domestic violence.

One incident involved a man and his girlfriend. The couple is no longer dating.

The other is attempting to save an eight-year relationship. The couple has a long history of violent outbursts and physical violence. The couple is currently living apart, but both are working on the relationship under the direction of the court.

One has been involved with the court since August, the other just a few weeks - both are making progress.

Superior Court I Judge Michael Robbins presides over the court and is assisted with a team comprised of representatives of the prosecutor's office, the public defender agency, the probation department, and other local social agencies working together to guide and direct those sentenced to the program.

In 2010, county officials raised concerns about domestic violence to state health officials after a study of cases from 2007-2009 led to the recommendation of a domestic violence court.

In 2013, the county received a $40,000 grant from the Indiana Supreme Court and a generous donation of $10,000 for a victim's advocate position and $5,000 for team training from Hoosier Uplands to form Indiana's first certified Domestic Violence Problem Solving Court.

The court began taking participants in August.

Those attending court work on step to improve life skills, learn to deal with drug and or alcohol addiction, and learn to control their violent tendencies.

Doug Horton, Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coordinator, says those involved are closely monitored through house arrest. Offenders who work at change are rewarded with free time. Those who buck the system are sanctioned with road crew or even jail time. The men will be in the program for a maximum of two years.

"We don't only deal with the offender, but the victim and the children," Horton added. "Our goal is to change the negatives in their lives to positives. For many a lifestyle of violence is all they have ever known."

Judge Robbins told the men Tuesday morning change can be scary.

"You have to give up the whole package," Robbins told the men. "People have a tendency to go back to what they know and understand even if it is all negative behavior. Working together we can break that cycle and you will learn steps to lead a healthy lifestyle without the violence and chaos. You can become the fathers you need to be. (Both men have two young sons.) One of the goals of this court is to stop the handing down of domestic violence from father to son and mother to daughter."

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