Step Up program helps domestic violence victims get help with unpaid tickets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City is making sure something as simple as an unpaid traffic ticket doesn’t prevent some women who are victims of domestic violence from getting a home or job.

"What we do is put them on probation and instead of having them pay money, we will have them do community service in lieu of whatever fines we would assess," Kansas City prosecuting attorney Courtney Wachal said.

Wachal is also the program director for the program called “Step Up,” which is sponsored by the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City.

The program helps women who have minor infractions - like an unpaid traffic ticket, a missed court appearance or an unresolved warrant. Since 2006, it has helped roughly 500 women.

This year's annual event had 50 attorney volunteers and law students and three judges who helped 70 women get another chance.

"Even some housing will run their names for warrants, jobs will run their names for warrants," said Wachal. "Just the fact that they are going out to look for a job, they could get arrested and then they have to post bond. Well they don't have any source of income."

The women are victims of domestic violence, and all who apply are currently staying at one of nearly half dozen KC shelters.

"If we can help even one woman get all of this taken care of and have go on and she won't come back to municipal court again, this was the break that she needed, I think we do that, it's very rewarding," Wachal said.

The program will continue again next year.

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