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April 10, 2006
Contact: David Usher, <>

"You Call, We Haul" Arrest Policies Violate Civil Liberties, Report Says

Rockville, MD – Lisa Ortiz started the fight by throwing objects. Then she bit boyfriend Scott Erickson, pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, on the arm. Soon Erickson's right foot was bleeding. Acting in self-defense, Erickson tried to carry Ortiz from his apartment.

When the police arrived they saw a tearful Ortiz curled up behind the door. Ignoring the trail of blood, they arrested Erickson, charging him with second-degree assault. Afterwards Ortiz admitted, “Scott has never been physically abusive toward me, and in no way do I feel threatened or felt fear from Scott.” (http://www.espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/0722/1408560.html)

The Violence Against Women Act provides funding to states to implement so-called “mandatory arrest” policies. But according to a report issued today, these rigid arrest policies routinely violate the notion of innocent until proven guilty.

“Justice Denied: Arrest Policies for Domestic Violence” was released by RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – an organization that tracks bias in domestic violence issues.

In the past, police dealt with domestic disputes by separating the parties, mediating the conflict, or making referrals. In order to avoid false arrests, police were reluctant to make an arrest unless they had a judge-issued warrant.

But as a result of VAWA, 21 states and the District of Columbia now require arrest, even if the conflict is mutual, one-time, or minor. Eight other states strongly encourage arrest.

“Mandatory arrest tramples on civil rights, eliminates officer judgment, and often ignores the diversity of a victim's needs,” according to RADAR spokesman Richard Davis. “More disturbing is how these policies preclude dual arrests, even when both parties are equally at fault.” Mr. Davis previously served as a police lieutenant in Massachusetts and is the author of Domestic Violence: Facts and Fallacies.

The RADAR report, fourth in a series that documents how VAWA violates Americans' civil rights and weakens the family, is available at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies.pdf.

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.

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