As domestic violence hits epidemic level, should laws be changed?

Cleveland 19 Investigates after a former judge is accused of killing his estranged wife.

As domestic violence hits epidemic level, should laws be changed?
Disgraced ex-judge Lance Mason is facing felonious assault and kidnapping charges after allegedly murdering his estranged wife, Aisha Fraser, who he had viciously beaten in 2014.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Former Judge Lance Mason was convicted on domestic violence charges, before his wife was found stabbed to death on Saturday.

Do domestic violence laws need to be changed?

It was a brutal attack in 2014, according to court records, but he only served nine months in prison.

Mason struck his wife Aisha Fraser Mason repeatedly in the head while driving.

He slammed her head against the window and dashboard and bit her in the face in front of their two young children.

This led to eight charges, from felonious assault to kidnapping and endangering children.

Mason took a plea deal, reducing those charges to a domestic violence charge and felonious assault.

A judge sentenced him to 24 months in prison that turned into just nine months served.

Lance Mason in court in 2015
Lance Mason in court in 2015 (Source: WOIO)

In Ohio, domestic violence can fall under a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

A misdemeanor domestic violence charge carries anywhere from "up to 60 days to six months" in jail and a $500 to $1,000 fine.

But it can also be a felony, with six months to three years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500 to $10,000.

Cleveland 19 spoke to an expert who says laws cannot fix the problem, it’s what happens outside of the courtroom that counts.

Do domestic violence laws need to get tougher?

RAW INTERVIEW: Do domestic violence laws need to get tougher? We went to the experts. Former judge Lance Mason is accused of killing his estranged wife Aisha Fraser Mason. In 2014, he punched her several times and slammed her head into a car dashboard in front of their children. He served just nine months in prison after taking a plea deal. Here's Carmen Naso, senior instructor of law at Case Western Reserve University.

Posted by Sara Goldenberg Cleveland 19 News on Monday, November 19, 2018

“I think when you're talking about felony offenses, felonious assault or attempted murder or even a homicide, you're talking about something different in nature and degree than domestic violence,” said Carmen Naso, a senior instructor of law at Case Western Reserve University.

Naso says we need to change how we look at the law in these cases.

“Domestic violence will provide the context, it will help us understand what motivated somebody to do something. But these more serious crimes are separate and apart from domestic violence,” Naso said.

We asked Naso if he believes the criminal justice system is broken.

“There is nothing that is more vexing than the issues associated with domestic violence and their intersection with the criminal law,” he said.

Naso says more laws won't fix the problem.

“It’s what we do after there’s been some accountability through the court system—it’s what we do, not only with that defendant, but also with the family that is going to have to change if we expect any results,” he said.

Carmen Naso is a Senior Instructor of Law at Case Western Reserve University.
Carmen Naso is a Senior Instructor of Law at Case Western Reserve University. (Source: WOIO)

Naso says if there was an easy fix to preventing something like this from happening, the courts would be doing it.

But it will take the team work of police, prosecutors, prisons and non-profits to find a way to rehabilitate offenders and heal their families.

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