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August 8, 2007
Contact: Mark Rosenthal, <>

Mandatory Arrest for Partner Abuse Increases Homicides, Harvard Researcher Reports

WASHINGTON, August 8, 2007 – Each year about 500,000 men and women are arrested for domestic violence in states that have enacted laws that require arrest. But now Harvard University researcher Radha Iyengar reports that such laws are worsening, not solving, the problem of partner abuse.

She tracked homicide rates in states that have implemented mandatory arrest, compared with states without such laws. In the 22 states that require arrest, partner homicides have increased by 50%, while in the other states, homicides have actually declined.

According to the New York Times article, Dr. Iyengar attributes the growth in homicides to the fact that many victims of abuse do not want their partners put behind bars. "And over the years, it turns out, that realization seems to have led victims to contact the police less," Iyengar explains.

Mandatory and pro-arrest laws are encouraged by the federal Violence Against Women Act, which authorizes $75 million a year to implement such policies.

"For years, victims have been saying they want their voices to be heard, not ignored, by the police," notes RADAR spokesman David Heleniak. "Now, we are seeing that mandatory arrest laws not only silence victims, they may actually trigger retaliatory violence."

Two surveys found that abused women were more satisfied with police intervention when the officers complied with the victim's request to not arrest the alleged offender.

Earlier this year RADAR published a report, "Arrest Policies for Domestic Violence," that concluded, "Taxpayers' money would be better spent on programs that actually help to solve the problem of domestic violence without trampling on persons' civil rights." The report can be seen at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies.pdf.

The NYT article can be viewed at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/opinion/07iyengar.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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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