First Step working toward BIPP Program

First Step staff say for every domestic violence accusers there could be 7 victims
Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 11:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Wichita Falls First Step is wasting no time putting the funds they were awarded by Impact 100 Wichita Falls to amazing use.

First Step staff said for every domestic violence accuser, they could see seven different victims; numbers that the nonprofit and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office are hoping to change with a new program.

“The idea is ‘how do we make a change in our community?’ We want to impact our community and make a huge change in the violence in our community and this program is going to do that,” said Michelle Turnbow, Executive Director of Wichita Falls First Step.

The Battering Intervention & Prevention Program is a nationwide program that will be the first of its kind for Wichita Falls and goes beyond helping victims.

“Batters who go through the program, it reduces recidivism by 60 percent. So what we find in our cases is they commit abuse and it starts at a misdemeanor level then graduates to a felony. If we can intervene and stop the violence before, it makes a tremendous difference,” said John Gillespie, Wichita County District Attorney.

First time offenders can use the BIPP program for probation terms or even as a part of plea deals.

“It saves the tax payers money because we’re not prosecuting them at a felony level. Then, it protects the person being abused and law enforcement are not having to deal with as many calls. So it’s a win-win,” said Gillespie.

Accusers will have to pay a minimum of $15 per class for a six-month session now made possible through Impact 100 dollars.

“Funds that you serve victims, you can’t use those funds to serve accusers, so there’s a cross barrier there. Vernon has got it going right now with the 67 percent ratio of anyone that finishes the program. So to give them the tools they may desperately want is going to impact this community and this generation for a long time, if not ever,” said Turnbow.

Turnbow said the next step is finding staff to lead and be a part of a program predicted to change many lives.

To find out information, visit the Wichita Falls First Step website.

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