Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mandatory arrest and domestic violence

Here is a little review of domestic violence and mandatory arrest from a pretty good youtube video

This is one of the hot topics in the criminal justice world right now. Domestic violence is a serious social problem. It has been estimated that as many as four million incidents of domestic violence occur each year in the United States. Mandatory arrest was thought to be a great idea where battered women would actually receive some justice and get their abusive partners out of their home. However, we now can see that it has had some very negative effects on women. It is very hard for someone who is being battered to actually be able to pick up the phone and call the police on their “partner” due to the possibilities that they might love them, depend on them, and even be scared of them. This creates a very tough situation for thousands of women each day. A lot of people think that the mandatory arrest policies are too harsh and strict, also in the end it can cause more violence to the victim then good. I would not say that mandatory arrest has no positive advantages, I'm just simply saying that disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

In some cases women call the police only to get some kind of help or have the police talk to the "partner" and don't realize that they are going to be arrested weather the victim wants them to or not.  This kind of problem seems to be happening very much in the lives of poor and colored women. "mandatory-arrest policy presents unique problems for women of color and poor women that have been largely overlooked by mandatory-arrest advocates".  This is because most of the people being effected by the mandatory arrest laws are poor and colored women. These are the people that are usually very dependent on their "partners" and cannot support the children or themselves with them. So, this causes them to feel trapped by the law. They cannot call the police because they will arrest the "partner" they depend on, but when they stay at home they are being beaten and mistreated. White women don't have this problem nearly as much as women of color due to the fact that they are usually much better off financially. Also in most cases they are not as dependent on their "partner" to the degree that poor and colored women are. This whole problem is very difficult to understand and deal with. Some people think that officers should use their discretion such as in the past with domestic violence. However, that leads to even more problems then we are dealing with now. The abusive "partner" in the past would some how convince the police that it was a one time thing or an accident and will never happen again. The women in many cases would be too scared to even speak up or let the police know really what is going on. This would overall lead to hardly any justice for these abused women. Now, we have a system where if you call the police about domestic violence someone is automatically being arrested. Its crazy because now that more justice is being served and carried out, many people are upset with these new policies. It's a double edged sword that has left the people of the criminal justice world with really no idea how to fix it. The negative effects mandatory arrest has on poor and colored women is evident and clear to see. However, more women are finding justice and that is a good thing. So how do we find the proper balance? How can we figure out a system that works out for all sides? It is a very troubling and hard question that people are struggling with to find the answers for. Hopefully, we will find a solution shortly. 

Information from a past paper and


  1. I think that the mandatory arrest that comes with a domestic violence call is a pretty serious problem. Like you said not all of the calls need to result in an arrest. Many women or even men just need someone there to calm down the situation and to get them to the proper place whether it is counseling or another option. The problem that these women face again is that the man who would be taken away is the main source of income in the family and how are they supposed to support their children if the bread winner is behind bars. I think that this is a complicated situation to deal with because when arriving on the scene you could very well not know if someone has or has not been a victim. I believe that the situation however should be assessed before police make an arrest.

  2. I feel like in this situation there will always be positives and negatives. I think that situations like this should be up to the police and they should have discretion, and the person being abused should be able to send the abuser away if he/she wants too. In some cases though I feel like the abuser should automatically be arrested. Again I feel like it should be discretion that decides.

  3. I agree that there are many positive and negatives aspects of this policy. It definitely affects colored women and women of minority statuses disproportionally. They typically need their partner in the home to provide money and housing for their family and though the woman is suffering she may fear more for her family. I feel like in some serious cases of domestic violence where the officer feels that the victim is in danger or that the kids could be affected, they use mandatory arrest. In cases where the victim is just trying to get someone to talk down their abuser, but not actually arrest, I feel that they should be forced to attend a class, or therapy. This will not remove the abuser from the home and hopefully get them some help for their problems.

  4. What you are saying in my opinion is very true, mandatory arrests in domestic abuse are sometimes not the best answer to the situation. People have varying degrees to what domestic abuse actually is and in Illinois people have been arrested over just a touch with some marks. For instance my Uncle grabbed his wife's arm when they were in an argument because she was getting ready to smash a family heirloom in the heat of the madness he let her go and she called the police and he was arrested. In a situation like that mandatory arrest should not be happening, but there are some severe times where a woman(and not to be sexist) and a man are beaten pretty badly where they do not want to press charges but someone needs to answer for what has been done. I believe that the officer should have discretion in the arrest of the subjects that are involved in a domestic situation. Laws like that are deemed to make an officer go only one way when there could be a better alternative to the situation, like just letting them cool it off and separate for the night in a mild situation.