Impose a ‘violence tax’ on family violence offenders

Family batterers need to recognize that there is a painful financial price for their abuse.

By IRIT ROSENBLUM
November 14, 2010 22:53
4 minute read.
Israel police car

police car 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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A wave of horrific incidents of violence in the family washed over Israel in the last week. On November 8, we awoke to the stabbing by her husband of a woman who hovered between life and death before succumbing to her wounds days later. In the very same building, three years prior, another man took his wife’s life. Just three days later, on November 11, Michal Aloni inexplicably strangled her two young daughters. The following day, an Eritrean woman refugee was murdered, and the police suspect her husband. Less than a day later, a Netanya man shot his wife and then himself.

These people should pay for their crimes, and not metaphorically.

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Itai Ben-Dror, the disgraceful murderer of his three children, like other vile murderers, rapists and abusers will spend their lives in jail, funded by taxpayers, and will not pay a single cent in compensation to their victims. I advocate imposing a financial penalty that will make criminals think before they act, or pay up.

One of the most infuriating aspects of treating family violence is the fact that the victims lack appropriate care after their injury. Jailing the assailant may protect the victim and other potential victims, and may even give the victim a sense of closure, but the victims are often left helpless without the care and therapy they need to rebuild their lives.

Paradoxically, the cruel murder of his three young children that shocked the nation in July paid off big time for Ben-Dror. He no longer needs to pay his exwife the child support he would pay if his children were alive. Even worse, his former wife not only suffered the unimaginable loss of all of her children, but will now be forced, along with the rest of us taxpayers, to pay for his incarceration from already scare state resources.

THE TIME has come to change our approach to perpetrators of violence in the family, so that their punishment will also compensate and rehabilitate their victims. Family batterers need to recognize that there is a painful financial price for their abuse. Following a conviction for serious crimes, such as child abuse, molestation, rape or murder, offenders should be required to pay a “violence tax.” It should be a painful deterrent that will transfer all the assailants’ assets and earnings to the victims of his violent crimes and to the state to pay for his incarceration. Upon his release from prison, the tax will be gradually reduced, but the criminal should still be required to pay for his victims’ treatments and rehabilitation and compensate them for their suffering.

Treatment for violent offenders has stagnated for many years in the absence of effective deterrents and appropriate care for victims, who are often left helpless.



It’s time to shake up the judicial system and to punish violent offenders financially as well as by imprisonment.

Imagine a situation in which a violent offender who committed a heinous crime rehabilitates his life after serving his sentence, without his assets being utilized to compensate and treat the victims or fund his jail stay, while the victims whose lives he destroyed languish and suffer without the resources they need to heal. Though no punishment can turn back time and prevent a crime from being committed, utilizing the assailants’ assets for compensation and rehabilitation is a small expression of justice.

The goal is to give meaning to the hollow mantra “the prisoner paid his debt to society.”

Many will roll their eyes and wonder if justice can be bought. The answer is twofold: First, the financial penalty will be added to a prison sentence and will not replace incarceration. The violence tax will provide an additional source of funding for rehabilitation and repayment to society that the offender will pay for his actions.

Second, the money paid to the victims will not restore their physical or mental health, but can provide them substantial relief. A situation of restorative justice where the offender pays for his victims’ treatment is not only poetic justice, but might even awaken in the offender a feeling of remorse for his crimes or ownership over the processes of changing his ways. He participates, indirectly, in the repair of the lives he himself destroyed or scarred.

Painful restorative taxation of violent offenders could cause those considering harming others to reconsider their actions. Make no mistake. This is no fine imposed for traffic offenses, but confiscation of all the assets and income the offender has accumulated over his lifetime – to be reserved for only the most severe crimes. This could cause some potential murders and rapists to think before committing their crimes. Even if some criminals won’t be deterred, it will contribute to the alleviation of the suffering of the lives scarred by violence in the family and maybe prevent the next murder.

The author is a family law attorney, the founder and executive director of New Family.

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