EDITORIAL — Victims of domestic violence need better protections

It is rare the pages of this newspaper contain stories involving domestic violence. This is a reality designed to protect the victims of such violence. Yet, in this week’s edition of The Observer is the story of a man, 29, who was charged after he reportedly used a frying pan to injure a family member before turning on her with his fists.

We chose not to release the suspect’s name to protect his victim. She was in hospital for days and is fortunately alive after what may only be described as “savage” beating.

Incomprehensibly, the beating took place on Dec. 21 and just five days later, on Dec. 26, the suspect was released from jail and, according to the Kearny Police Department, was back at the scene of the crime. By pure luck, someone noticed he was back and called police. Had this person not seen him, who knows what could have happened. 

This all begs the question: How is it humanly possible that a man who used a metal pan to beat a woman senselessly could be released from custody, apparently on his own recognizance, less than a week after his alleged crime?

No one seems to know how or why. 

So we ask — did the prosecuting attorney not know that the crime he was charged with was so heinous? We’re told the charge itself indicates the defendant caused grievous bodily harm. So, let’s say the attorney didn’t have a chance to be caught up on the specifics of the crime, the charge alone should have been enough to note the man was dangerous.

Did a judge read this report and still spring the man, despite the reality that his victim was fortunate to be alive?

Is this a case of letting a defendant go because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

We don’t have that answer. We likely never will. But this case demonstrates something clear — despite the hard work of the KPD, getting this guy away from his victims and sending him to the Hudson County Jail, the system designed to protect those who are victims of domestic violence is severely broken and is in dire need of fixing.

That a man who reportedly beat someone beyond recognition — and was back on the streets five days later and not either behind bars or at a psychiatric hospital — is absolutely maddening, frustrating, wholly unacceptable. Maybe the real issue here is that there aren’t enough beds for patients who really need them?

Never, ever, should a victim be faced with her perpetrator just five days later. Never, ever, should a victim have to live in fear of repeated incidents. Never, ever, should a woman have to hide, away from home, because a prosecuting attorney and/or a judge, dropped the ball by releasing someone who had no business being on the streets.

The time for reform to how domestic-violence defendants are treated has arrived. Police work too hard to help, only to see these disgraceful people back on the streets entirely too soon, ready to re-offend. And while we don’t know how this case unfolded in the courts, one thing is clear: Someone dropped the ball and must be held to account for it. Now.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.