(CBS/AP) TOPEKA, Kan. - Suspects in Topeka domestic violence cases are now leaving jail without being charged. Why? The mayor and council of Kansas' capital city made a dramatic move Tuesday night in their ongoing clash with county officials by voting to repeal the city's ordinance against domestic violence.
Now advocates for abuse survivors say victims are growing more scared amid a public argument over who should pay to prosecute the crime.
The intent is to force the county's district attorney to back away from a budget-driven decision to stop prosecuting misdemeanors committed inside the city limits. This also includes domestic assault and battery not involving a weapon.
Advocates for victims of abuse criticized all sides of the debate. They're angry with the district attorney over his decision. They are also furious with the mayor and city council for repealing the ordinance and frustrated that officials can't resolve the budget dispute.
It's been a month since new prosecutions of domestic violence stopped in Topeka.
Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor contends the county commission forced his decision to cut the budget by 10 percent in 2012, with his office still swamped by felony cases. The city's leaders argue that it can't afford to create the services for domestic abuse victims and rent jail space from the county for suspects.
Topeka has had at least 35 reported incidents of domestic battery or assault since early September. With those cases not being pursued, as of Friday, 18 people jailed have been released without facing charges, according to Topeka police.
The repeal came during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. City and county officials reported receiving hundreds of emails in just days from people upset over the situation.
About two dozen protesters gathered outside the Shawnee County Courthouse to protest Taylor's decision Tuesday. Then, many of them went to the City Council meeting to show their opposition to its actions.