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Tell State Legislators: Repeal Mandatory Arrest Laws Now!

Domestic violence laws represent the biggest roll-back in Americans' civil rights since the era of Jim Crow.

Take mandatory arrest laws that disregard "probable-cause" protections that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Then add in "primary aggressor" policies that say, "If you're the bigger and stronger of the two parties (in almost every case, the man), you're the one who will be arrested, regardless of what the evidence shows."

That's gender-profiling at its worst.

Not only do mandatory arrest laws trample on Constitutional protections, they also put victims at risk. According to a Harvard University study, mandatory arrest laws increase partner homicides by 57% – probably because at-risk persons are reluctant to call the police for help, knowing law enforcement is tied to a lock-step arrest policy.1

For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are calling on persons in states with mandatory arrest and/or primary aggressor laws to pay a friendly visit to your own state legislator(s). To prepare for your visit, find your state's legal code on the Internet and identify the places in the code that impose these destructive mandatory arrest and primary aggressor policies. Then when you speak with your legislator or their aide, you can ask them to delete all such language. If you have trouble finding the language in the code, you can ask your legislator to help you find the right sections of the code.

A listing of mandatory arrest states and primary agressor states is shown at the end of this Alert. Here's a flyer you can use: http://mediaradar.org/docs/RADARflyer-VAWA-Promotes-Civil-Rights-Abuses.pdf. And for more information, see the Special Report, "Justice Denied: Arrest Policies for Domestic Violence" at http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies.pdf

Mandatory arrest represents a grotesque violation of Constitutional protections. If we don't stick up for the civil rights of ourselves and our children, nobody will.

States with Mandatory Arrest for Alleged Assault:2

Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

States with Mandatory Arrest for Alleged Violation of a Restraining Order:3

Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.



1 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.

2 Miller N. Domestic violence: A review of state legislation defining police and prosecution duties and powers. Alexandria, VA: Institute for Law and Justice, 2004. http://www.ilj.org/publications/docs/Domestic_Violence_Legislation.pdf

3 Hirschel D, Buzawa E. Understanding the context of dual arrest with directions for future research. Violence Against Women, Vol. 8, pp. 1449-1455, 2002.

Date of RADAR Release: October 7, 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