Friday, March 2, 2012

Mandatory Arrest Policies Do Not Work

Domestic violence in society has always been around and will continue to be around even if laws are made against it. When domestic violence started to become a problem and people started rising up against it, the government decided to step in with one measly law: The Rule of Thumb. Nowadays, domestic violence is frowned upon and can sometimes lead to arrests and jail time (depending on how bad the woman has been beaten). Research has clearly shown though that even though jail time could be given to the offender, it does little to deter them from doing it again and provides little protection and help for the victim. If domestic violence cases are going to go down, then enforcement needs to be stepped up; mandatory arrest policies should not be enacted because they do not work.
As a male, criminal justice major, I have been and will always be against domestic violence but not for mandatory arrest policies for batterers. I was grown up with the idea that it was inexcusable to lay a hand on any female no matter what. This idea is still instilled in me and will always be a part of me, especially when I get a law enforcement job in the field. One issue with mandatory arrest policies is that if offenders are arrested for domestic violence, their anger may grow more and more for the woman, and, once he gets out, he may take it out once again on her. This second act of aggression may yield more damage than the first and provide more problems for the woman in the end.
Another issue with mandatory arrest policies is the “intrusion” factor by law enforcement officers. This issue is huge because it hits on the fact that what goes on inside somebody’s home is nobody’s business, especially not law enforcements’. People have a certain right to privacy, and if domestic violence does not occur in the middle of the street, law enforcement can only watch. This threat to privacy can also be damaging to the woman because the batterer can potentially take his anger out on her again if law enforcement officers are too pushy. I believe that any aggression taken towards batterers (from a law enforcement standpoint) will only result in more abuse, more problems, and more aggression for the woman.
I believe that there are several ways to correct the deficiencies in this law. The first being that officers and staff in law enforcement should be better trained to deal with domestic violence issues and to know when not to arrest. I think that with better training officers can be more aware of situations and be more proactive when involved in a domestic violence situation. Another way to correct these policies is to research exactly why domestic violence happens and apply it to real world situations. This would be a proactive solution and would hopefully limit the need for arrests, thus creating fewer problems than there already are.
Overall, domestic violence policies do not work. After an arrest, second acts of aggression from the offender to the victim may yield more damage than the first act did. These policies only cause more damage than they prevent it. Mandatory arrest policies also present a threat to privacy and an “intrusion” to private property. This threat could potentially cause more aggression to the victim, thus cancelling out why law enforcement was there to begin with. Although these seem like big problems, there are solutions. One being that law enforcement officers should be better trained to deal with domestic violence cases. Another solution would be to research exactly why domestic violence happens and apply it to situations in the field. These proactive solutions are two of many that could help correct the deficiencies of mandatory arrest policies and help better domestic violence situations.


  1. I do not agree fully with this, your saying in some situations we should not be arresting anyone when we come upon a domestic violence? If the person is out-raged claiming they are going to attack the other person, I believe someone needs to be taken away. Not necessarily give them a ticket, maybe just be taken to the jail cell to cool off about everything that has happened.

    I know in some states on every domestic disturbance their is a mandatory arrest for one of the people involved. I think police are trained to deal with this also, whats the number one call police respond to? Domestic disturbance. Even if they are minimally trained they have been on enough calls for this that they become trained themselves on how they should appropriately go about to deal with each different situation to calm down the individuals involved.

  2. I've worked for nine months now with in the Felony Domestic Violence Unit of the State's Attorney's Office here in McLean County. Based on my very limited experience I say you touch on one of the difficult aspects of DV cases but come out with the wrong conclusion. Typically what happens in the home IS a private matter and the police should not be involved. In even minor cases of domestic violence however, the officers cannot be sure if a minor push for example isnt indicative of a systematic pattern of abuse we just arent aware of. Further, officers should not be allowed discretion because that would result in cases being dealt with in a discriminatory matter just by how many victims do not want to participate. In the vast majority of DV cases the victim do not want to testify against their significant other. However, just because someone doesnt want to do something, doesnt mean that that course of action is not in their best interest. We cannot permit people to abuse their significant others under the veil of private business, this is society's problem.

  3. I could easily relate to this post because I did a research paper on it last semester for my women in criminal justice class. I don't fully agree with you though. Since becoming noticed in the 70's in the united states domestic violence laws have faced much scrutiny from advocates who are on either side of the fence. I do agree with the fact the the second act of violence may be far worse than the original, now that the offender is enraged with the arrest. And yes what goes on in the home should be a "behind closed doors" matter and shouldn't be society's problem. However it is society's problem because it is happening all to often. Where is the peace of mind for the victim when they keep taking abuse and the justice system does nothing to their attacker. The bottom line is that the real problem with domestic violence is that is is highly unreported and the percentage of arrest in accordance with actual batterings is way too low. the line has to be drawn somewhere and actions do indeed speak louder than words.

  4. I agree with this post. I do not think that mandatory arrest is the solution to this problem; in fact, I think that it is rather naive to believe that someone should be arrested in every domestic violence situation, and that there is a one-size-fits-all answer. We need more research into what drives people to commit these crimes; then, we can start training officers the correct way to handle these situations.

    I also think that it's important to keep in mind that many times these women do not want their abusers arrested. In arresting when the victim does not want you to, you destroy her trust in the police. The next time she is abused she may not call the police, and unfortunately the next time could be fatal. Another problem with these policies is that some domestic violence situations turn into a he said/she said situation. In many of these cases officers can't just assume the woman is telling the truth and may have to arrest both parties. In this instance, the woman is not just abused, but also is arrested. To sum it up, domestic violence is a very complex issue, and it would be a mistake to think that one simple solution will work in every situation.