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Prince George’s County official: Family violence is killing us

WASHINGTON — “Fifty percent of our homicides this year have been related to family violence.”

That’s the stark reality that Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks says her office is seeing. From the case of now-former Ravens football player Ray Rice to the recent deaths of two toddlers — allegedly killed by their mother — Alsobrooks says family violence is “is killing us, literally killing us.”

Weeks after she stood in the neighborhood where a 3-year-old was killed by her own father as he fled from police, and announced an effort to involve the faith-based community in working with families, Alsobrooks has renewed a call for a more comprehensive approach to domestic and family violence.

Of cases like that of 24-year-old Sonya Spoon, the Cheverly woman accused of killing her two children, both toddlers, Alsobrooks says ” We bring those folks to the courthouse and we will prosecute them very vigorously and guess what? Unless we do more, nothing changes.”

Alsobrooks says one of the issues that deserves more attention: mental health. She says it’s at the root of many of the cases she ends up prosecuting.

Attitudes about mental illness and family violence, and the stigma surrounding both, are proving deadly, says Alsobrooks.

“There are so many in our community who are dealing with shame, and who are dealing with this issue in secrecy and they just don’t know where to turn.”

Prince George’s County’s 311 line offers assistance in directing residents to county services that can help them.

Crisis centers:

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.