Is Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst Developing A Secondary Trauma Victim Card For Prosecutors?

by Travis Mateer

Usually Twitter just pisses me off, but yesterday I used that censorious platform to interact with Monica Perez of The Propaganda Report, so I guess it ain’t all bad.

Perez has noticed a potential theme emerging in the recent reporting of incidents of gun violence, starting with the two FBI agents who were shot and killed recently while serving a warrant on a suspected producer of child porn.

That theme seems to be a focus on mental health, and not just the psychological strains that lead people to snap, but ALSO the psychological impacts on law enforcement and other operators within the criminal justice realm.

I tweeted Perez this link to a piece written by our County Attorney, Kirsten Pabst, for the NDAA (National District Attorneys Association). It’s all about prosecutor well-being. Under the header “Common Themes”, Pabst writes:

In promoting the well-being of our larger prosecution family, we will be emphasizing the importance of addressing secondary trauma — through education, prevention, and response — but also incorporating resiliency tools to keep us thriving physically, mentally, socially, financially, professionally and spiritually. For our purposes, spirituality is defined outside of a religious context but rather a reference to an individual’s belief or connection to something greater than oneself.

Speaking as a former social worker, I can tell you secondary trauma is a real thing. That said, the way this concept is being positioned by the operators of our criminal injustice system is greatly concerning to me.

Before getting to that, it’s important to note that there are two separate, yet parallel tracts to this focus on mental health. For those WITH POWER in the system, the negative impacts of secondary trauma will be used to shield prosecutors from criticism.

Or, to put it another way, instead of defense attorneys playing the victim card FOR THEIR CLIENTS, secondary trauma will be a way for prosecutors to play the victim card FOR THEMSELVES.

For those WITHOUT POWER in the system, the deterioration of mental stability will be used to FURTHER DISEMPOWER individuals through legal mechanisms, like red flag laws.

I wrote about red flag laws two years ago, but what I didn’t contextualize at the time was how Missoula County’s suicide prevention program was taken over by an anti-gun activist by the name of Nancy de Pastino. Here is an article archived at Moms Demand Action from 2013:

When it comes to fighting for stricter gun control laws in the United States, Nancy de Pastino offers some interesting statistics. The National Rifle Association often boasts it has more than 4 million members nationwide. That may be, de Pastino says, but there are also some 80 million mothers in this country, all of whom can sympathize with the horrors that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary two months ago.

“Yeah, the NRA’s powerful, but how powerful are moms?” asks de Pastino, head of the recently formed Montana chapter of grassroots nonprofit Moms Demand Action. “It’s a good number to keep in mind when I’m feeling little.”

Nancy de Pastino may depict herself as someone who feels inconsequential, but the red flag laws she supports are anything but. They destroy foundational legal concepts, like due process, and further empower a police-state crisis mentality of ACT NOW TO SAVE LIVES, leaving the legal ramifications to be sorted out later by our criminally clogged criminal justice system.

I will be writing much more about this in the weeks and months to come. And if a certain podcaster would like to have me on as a guest for a Rokfin deep-dive, I’m TOTALLY available.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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