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Junk Science at the Dept. of Justice

In his inaugural speech on January 20, President Obama declared, "We will restore science to its rightful place." And in a March 9 memo the president reminded the heads of federal agencies, "The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions."

Apparently the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) didn't get that message.

Because three months later the DoJ issued a report titled, "Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research."1 Sadly, the report cherry-picks the research and badly misrepresents the truth.

The report states on page 22: "Of course, the most powerful predictor of risk of domestic violence is gender." Apparently the DoJ never bothered to check out the nearly 250 scholarly studies that reveal gender is not a "powerful predictor" of violence because men and women are equally likely to abuse.2

Some statements in the report lack common sense, for example, "Batterers are no more likely to be mentally ill than the general population." (p. 18). But psychologist Don Dutton found the opposite: "Studies have found incidence rates of personality disorders to be 80-90 percent in both court-referred and self-referred wife assaulters."3

The report is no better when it recommends intervention strategies. For example, the DoJ advises on page 12: "Arrest should be the default position for law enforcement in all domestic violence incidents." But Harvard researcher Radha Iyengar found mandatory arrest increases the risk of subsequent homicide by 54%.4

This report is a prime example of advocacy research that carries the relentless message, "It's always the man's fault, so go ahead and lock him up."

Please contact this person now:

Kristina Rose, Acting Director
National Institute of Justice, U.S. Dept. of Justice
Phone: 202-307-2942

Politely and firmly, tell her to remove the report and have it reviewed by an independent panel of qualified researchers. Explain this report ignores President Obama's directive to rely on evidence-based policies.

Please do it now. We simply can't allow this slander to stand.



3 Dutton D, Bodnarchuk M. Through a psychological lens: Personality disorder and spouse assault. In Loseke D, Gelles R & Cavanaugh M (eds.). Current Controversies on Family Violence, 2005, p. 14.

4 Iyengar R. Does the certainty of arrest reduce domestic violence? Evidence from mandatory and recommended arrest laws. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2007.

Date of RADAR Release: June 22, 2009

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org