2012 story: Group Recognizes District Attorney's 24-Hour Domestic Violence Program

EL PASO, Texas - The way El Paso handles cases of domestic violence is getting positive attention from the state.

The district attorney's "24 hour domestic violence program" is the first in the country and it is being called "innovative" in a new study from the University of Texas in Austin.

"We go out to visit with the victims of domestic violence within 24 hours of a reported crime," District Attorney Jaime Esparza said. "If we respond quickly, then the prosecution will be more successful because the victim will know that this community cares."

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, El Paso's program was showcased Tuesday by the Texas Council on Family Violence for working in a way that no one else is.

"It seems like every day we have business, unfortunately. Today there are seven cases and we will be out and visit with these victims today," Esparza said.

Prosecutors look at the jail roster every day, check up on victims, let them know they're safe and explain the services available to them, all while pulling 911calls, police reports and taking photographs.

Now the model program is getting attention from the state for its effectiveness to prosecute the usually difficult cases.

"There is no other district attorney doing this in the state of Texas, " said Gloria Terry, president of the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Terry said that other Texas cities are interested in the program, which often gives prosecutors a stronger case and lets offenders know they will be held accountable.

"It's going to diminish the offender from re-offending or creating greater harm to that particular victim, " Terry said.

Out of 142 women who were killed in domestic violence murders throughout the state last year, only one was from El Paso.

If the victim doesn't want to press charges, they don't go away.

Esparza said that's why these cases are so difficult, because the victim and defendant usually know each other so well.

But it doesn't matter, it's up to the D.A. to prosecute or not.

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