By Dana Kozlov

(CBS) — Before Travis Holcomb was charged with viciously assaulting his ex-girlfriend last week, the 33-year-old had been arrested more than three dozen times in at least four other states.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov wanted to find out why he was still on the streets.

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Holcomb is currently a 6-foot, five-inch tall, 200-pound inmate at Cook County Jail. He was arrested Jan. 4 for allegedly choking and beating his ex-girlfriend inside her Buena Park apartment, leaving her with a collapsed lung before he passed out on her couch.

Cook County prosecutors have seen a lot of Holcomb in recent months.

In April, he was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, which was later dismissed.  In June, he pleaded guilty to another domestic battery charge.  And then, in October, he violated his probation, and his probation was extended — leaving him out until his arrest last week.

Holcomb leaves a trail of arrests for violent offenses in several states. In 2011, he was charged with kidnapping, rape and aggravated assault against a household member in New Mexico.

Those charges were dropped. He was also charged with kidnapping and assault in Colorado that same year. The list goes on.

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“You can’t wait until the second, third or the fourth and the fifth time before reaching out. They need intervention,” says Kathy Doherty, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Womens Network.

Advocates and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez say domestic violence laws vary from state to state, which can impact sentencing. So, too, can attitudes, from a judge on down.

“What messages is he receiving all throughout his experience as a perpetrator of domestic violence that have reinforced the belief that it’s okay to continue this behavior?” asks Megan Rose, director of public policy for the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Womens Network.

In court, Holcomb’s latest victim says he’s been calling her from jail.

If that’s true, prosecutors say, he could be charged with additional felonies.

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If he posts bond, he’ll have to wear an electronic monitor.