Crime

Ignoring the Victim

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More on unintended consequences in the NYT: it turns out that state mandatory arrest laws—whereby a police officer turning up to the scene of domestic violence must arrest someone—discourage victims from reporting crimes. States with mandatory arrest laws on average have intimate partner murder rates 50% higher than states without them:

The mandatory arrest laws were intended to impose a cost on abusers. But because of psychological, emotional and financial ties that often keep victims loyal to their abusers, the cost of arrest is easily transferred from abusers to victims. Victims want protection, but they do not always want to see their partners put behind bars.

In some cases, victims may favor an arrest, but fear that their abusers will be quickly released. And many victims may avoid calling the police for fear that they, too, will be arrested for physically defending themselves. The possibility of such "dual arrests" is most worrisome for victims who have children at home.

The problem with a law like this is that it regards all individual victims of domestic violence as a collective underclass that needs to be forcibly "saved" in any way the state deems fit. Undoubtedly resources and information should be available to victims, but blanket rules like this treat them as voiceless prey rather than human beings with their own priorities and knowledge of the situation. Any law that fails to take the victim's wishes into account when dealing with a risk that affects them is bound to run into problems.

Via IWF blog Inkwell.

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  1. That’s a real law?!?!? Please tell me you’re kidding.

  2. Eenie meenie miney mo, catch a tiger by the toe, if he hollers let him go…OK, it’s you.

    You have the right to remain silent…

  3. You’re really going to pretend not the see the problem with making the battered wife bear the responsibility, in the batterers’ eyes, for his going to jail?

    I can acknowledge the effect of making victims less likely to call the police; you’re really going to pretend that there is something other than regarding all individual victims of domestic violence as a collective underclass that needs to be forcibly “saved” in any way the state deems fit going on when the police take the batterer away without putting the victim in the position of telling them?

  4. States with mandatory arrest laws on average have intimate partner murder rates 50% higher than states without them

    cause and effect? could it be that these laws are passed in reaction to higher-than-normal abuse rates? (not that this means the laws are a good idea)

  5. You’re really going to pretend not the see the problem with making the battered wife bear the responsibility, in the batterers’ eyes, for his going to jail?

    joe, how does a mandatory arrest law change who bears the responsibility, in the batterers’ eyes, for his going to jail? I presume he knows who called the police which has the same effect as her telling them to cart him off. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you think the rationale is, but I don’t see how the batterer is going to be under any misapprehension as to who is to “blame” for his ending up behind bars in either case.

  6. Brian Courts,

    Most police visits to domestic violence scenes are not the result of the victim calling, but of someone else reporting it.

    Some are, but the majority are not.

  7. Domestic violence is one of the biggest scams ever shoved through the legal system. Feel good agenda driven bullshit with Liberty and common sense taking an ass raping as a result.

  8. joe – just s’pozing here, but domestically violent aggressors, not celebrated as paragons of rationality, strike me (so to speak) as likely to punish the handiest target at the next opportunity for provoking their arrest. Eliminating officers’ discretion concerning arrests would mean an overhaul of the whole penal code; it lends an even more literal meaning to the phrase “machinery the state”. But I admit all that’s just from armchair speculation.

  9. I gotta disagree with ya here Joe. As dumb as cops are, I’d still rather give them the discretion whether to arrest the pieces of shit. They’re the ones on the scene who can make a better judgment call. I want battered women to leave abusive relationships as much as anybody, but swatting a hornet’s nest isn’t going to make more honey…’cause they’re hornets, not bees.

  10. Wait a minute…so if a neighbor calls police because they think there’s domestic violence going on, and if the police arrive on scene and find that that’s not the case, they still have to arrest someone?

    Unless you’re expecting people not present in the same house/apartment/whatever to be able to distinguish real abuse from, for instance, consensual BDSM practices, that’s another area where problems could arise.

  11. what edna said. i suspect the high domestic violence murder rates cause the automatic arrest laws

  12. Domestic violence is one of the biggest scams ever shoved through the legal system. Feel good agenda driven bullshit with Liberty and common sense taking an ass raping as a result.

    Care to explain that Cactus? Don’t you think there’s more to the govnerment’s response to domestic violence than “Feel good agenda agenda driven bullshit”? Am I just responding to a parody statement here?

  13. Crimethink: I think there has to be something corroborating, even the most miniscule bruise. Of course, a black eye is tell-tale.

    rd and edna, I’m not sure your views are accurate. The more the local news covers that stuff, the more likely draconian laws are likely to be put in place.

  14. At least they have the balls to TRY to protect the children! You cowards!

  15. Most police visits to domestic violence scenes are not the result of the victim calling, but of someone else reporting it.

    Indeed they are – some years ago, the neighbors called the cops on an old girl-friend and I when we were actually having, er, quite a good time…

    Needless to say, we were astonished and appalled. I’m sure glad there weren’t any laws like that on the books back then!

  16. Wait a minute…so if a neighbor calls police because they think there’s domestic violence going on, and if the police arrive on scene and find that that’s not the case, they still have to arrest someone?

    Try watching when CourtTV does one of its weekend marathons of the TV show “COPS.” If your wife or girlfriend calls the police and says you hit her, even with zero proof, they will arrest you and take you away. Her word against yours. Often the wife/girlfriend doesn’t realize that mandatory arrest laws exist, so the episode will ended with the wife/girlfriend bleeding to not take the male away, they only wanted to police to show up to teach him a lesson. Etc.

    (Yes, I am sure the vast majority of them are real calls, and the guys are real slimeballs. But I’ve seen a couple episodes where it was clear the guy wasn’t even present and he still gets arrested.)

  17. I once had a rather volatile red headed girlfriend… Well, I refused to dance with her to the rocking rhythm of the karaoke singers after far too much tequila at our local. Long story short, we got home and she took a shot at me with a .38spl. She missed, she felt terrible, we were making up and all was well, but of course Johnny Law shows up for a domestic, possible shots fired call. I was in Arizona so I ended up going to jail for the night (I wasn’t going to rat her out). The cop knew that no one was going to talk, no one would press charges. It was all a formality for him. We had good fun when I got out the next day…

    Moral of the story: most cops may be fuckheads, but on occasion their judgement is better than a hard and fast rule. I do miss that girl from time to time. She’s working as a carny in North Dakota now and just today sent her squeeze to the hospital (she didn’t say how, I didn’t ask). I try not to mention any of this to my wife, she still thinks Robin a a lesbian.

  18. Bob Mologna: the only fuckhead in your story is you. Were you so desperate for sex that you stayed with a batshit crazy woman? Too bad her shot with the .38 didn’t hit home. Please tell you you never plan to breed.

    If it were me she’d be arrested, facing a criminal trial with me as the gleeful prime witness, and then I’d sue the bugfuck skank her for whatever was left. Anyone pulls that shit with me has ended their life as they know it.

    A carny? Did you live in a single wide trailer, too? Loser.

  19. Don’t get out much, do you Seamus? Batshit crazy redheads have much to recommend them.

  20. Batshit crazy redheads have much to recommend them.

    indeed. i married one.

  21. Yeah, I’m gonna have to say that if somebody fired a shot at me I’d have the person arrested, no matter the hair color. I’m uptight about these sorts of things.

  22. It is interesting how the same people who think giving local police the power to enforce immgration laws is a terrible idea because illegals won’t call the cops, think this is a good idea. If it is so bad to discourage illegal alliens from calling the cops, why isn’t it just as bad to discourage battered spouses (yes spouses, men are sometimes abused) from calling the cops?

    These policies are like zero tolerance policies in schools. Every situation is different. You have to rely on people in positions of authority, in this case police, to make judgement calls and do justice on the spot. You can’t just have a blankett sollution of someone has to go to jail. First, a lot of these situtations are mutal combat. It is not always the evil man beating the crap out of his innocent wife. Sometimes it is too drunken or drugged out losers going at it. Other times it is just a one time thing where both parties got out of hand. Sometimes, it is one vindictive party calling the cops and wrongfully accusing the other. You name it, it happens. You need to let police have disgression to do the right thing.

  23. Jesus Bob, didn’t you feel a bit ah nervous sleeping with that woman after she took a shot at you?

  24. Jeez, thoreau, what are you, anti-gun?

  25. Guys, he said “she felt terrible”. You obviously don’t know how gratifying that can be, how far it can get you, how much you can trade on it.

  26. For the people who support this nonsense, why not apply it to other laws? Like say DUI laws? What is happening here is the law is telling police that on certain types of calls someone has to be arrested regardless of the facts. So, why not just do the same thing with DUI laws. That way when the cop pulls you over and you pass the sobriety test and blow a 0.0, he still takes you to jail that night even though there is no evidence you were drunk because he pulled you over on suspicion of DUI and when that happens, “someone has to be arrested”. Makes sense right? Same with drug laws. Your neighbor calls the cops because he says he saw you smoking a joint. You get arrested even though no drugs were found on the scene and there is no evidence because it was a drug call and when there is one of those “someone has to get arrested”. How is applying that policy any more just in a domestic violence call than it would be in those two instances?

  27. John, let’s add to that list the PD’s own Internal Affairs investigations.

  28. You’re really going to pretend not the see the problem with making the battered wife bear the responsibility, in the batterers’ eyes, for his going to jail?

    The only abusive husband I’ve ever met is now dead, so I can’t ask, but I strongly suspect that the batterer will blame the victim regardless of why the cops arrest him.

    Batshit crazy redheads have much to recommend them.

    I disagree. I thought the bat-shit crazy redhead I dated had a lot going for her, but it turned out that underneath all that bat-shit crazy was just more layers of bat-shit crazy. My pee-pee might disagree with me, but I do not need to get laid that badly.

    Guys, he said “she felt terrible”.

    “Oh, baby, come on. Don’t be like that. You know I only shoot at you because I love you.”

  29. The Policeman’s Blog has often had a bit to say (from a UK perspective) about the impact of this sort of thing on cops. Basically kills morale, to have to make a tremendous number of arrests in which the victim won’t press charges and nobody else has enough evidence to go forward.

    The general sentiment — that mandatory-arrest rules will spare the victim from having to be the one to cause a partner’s arrest — is a good one. But the practicalities aren’t exactly pretty.

  30. Speaking of bat-shit crazy women and domestic violence issues, my mom would occasionally get into fights with her boyfriend(s). I think that most times, she was the aggressor. Either way, all incidents ended the same way…the guy’s face was all scratched up, nothing in the way of bruises on my mom, and the guy ended up going to jail. Not that I would want to have to bail my mom out of jail every time, but the law is totally biased in domestic violence situations…

  31. John,their already doing it to DUI.You can be aressted with little or no alcohol ..o8 is used as a guide not a difinitive .In Ohio it can be two charges,DUI and BAC .08 or over.

  32. What joe said. This HnR entry is pretty pathetic, although I can’t say that I have any great answers on domestic violence calls either. You just can’t tell who is telling the truth observing the situation from the LEO’s shoes.

    From my casual observation of the news, it also seems like domestic violence calls, as opposed to search warrants, tend to be the ones where police get attacked. If SWAT teams are justified anywhere in law enforcement, for the purposes of protecting police safety, it would probably be domestic violence calls.

    Domestic violence calls are frustrating to even think about.

    Oh yaeh, here in Canada (Ontario only?) when they enacted the law that an arrest had to be made, they found out that the direct result was tat a lot more women ended up getting arrested. Some of the people who had pushed for the law in the 1st place were a bit humina, humina, if you know what I mean.

  33. I have heard that Micheal and it is outragous. The MADD people are about as reasonable as the anti- domestic violence types, which is to say they are completely batshit insane and unreasonable.

  34. “You just can’t tell who is telling the truth observing the situation from the LEO’s shoes.”

    So that means that the sollution is to just arrest someone regardless? That is nuts.

  35. crimethink:

    Sounds sort of like this to me.

  36. Batshit crazy redheads have much to recommend them.

    I agree with whatever Jennifer says.

    (Unless it’s about abortion or the Pledge of Allegiance)

  37. Some people still believe what they read in the NYT? Yikes!

    Two different papers:

    “Overall, 42% of domestic violence cases result in arrest. States vary in the percentages of domestic violence cases that result in arrest and range from a low of 25% to a high of 52%.”

    “Analysis of police records revealed that the majority (60%) of domestic violence cases in the study sample did not result in arrest, despite the fact that a mandatory arrest policy was in effect.”

  38. FWIW, that wasn’t me at 3:35 am.

  39. Wait, I think I see why the law might in some circumstances be a good idea. Sure, sometimes people are doing consensual things, but sometimes the batterer so has the batteree under his/her thumb, that the victim will say anything to the cops in order to not have the abuser arrested. If the cops HAVE to take someone away, they’ll be rescuing the victim to a safe space where they will totally be believed, or taking away the abuser so the victim is able to think clearly and get to a shelter.

    I really don’t agree with this kind of logic dictating every single domestic dispute case, but I can see how this might help a very few people. I have a hard time judging the kind of people for this law, because I believe former victims when they say it takes something like this to break free from a manipulative abuser. On the other hand, it seems basically wrong for all the reasons people have mentioned above.

  40. Frequent H&R poster seeks psycho redhead female. Age 20-35. Must have very poor aim; and be inclined only to brief, fleeting, occasional murderous impulses, followed by a desire to make amends through a wide variety of sexual favors. If interested, email picture/copy of criminal record.

  41. So that means that the sollution is to just arrest someone regardless? That is nuts.

    Well, like I said, I don’t have any grand solutions. Like I said, here in Canada, the arrest-somebody, arrest-anybody solution lead to lots more women being arrested. There are a couple ways to read that result.

    The negative reading is that police are biased against women, and are taking advantage of this law to arrest women just because they have to arrest somebody.

    I disagree and think there has been a more positive unintended outcome. Specifically, there seems to be something of a society-wide realization that a lot of aggressive women have traditionally taken advantage of the situation that it is usually the d00d (if anyone) who gets arrested. So maybe the woman feels more free in creating a ruckus. If the neighbors call, then she knows that either her husband goes to jail or no one goes to jail, so, at the margin, she is more likely to attack. There are also probably women aggressors who call when the man defends himself. Once again, the woman knows that traditionally the d00d goes to jail or nobody does, so, at the margin, she feels freer to attack.

    There was a time in Canada when you couldn’t suggest these possibilities, or at least not get taken seriously. Now tat the numbers are in on how often a woman goes to jail, people are beginning to get a more complete picture of domestic violence. Good outcome. helps make up for years of discrimination against men.

  42. In jurisdictions requiring that SOMEONE must go to jail, it would seem that the best way to stop the domestic violence would be for EVERYBODY to go to jail. Let the court sort it out.

    The incentive for BOTH parties would be… try to get along or we spend the night in jail.

    CB

  43. Frequent H&R poster seeks psycho redhead female. Age 20-35

    what’s jennifer’s email address?

  44. What was the mother’s advice in The Godfather?

  45. For the record, I did start locking up my weapons after that. Also, I don’t think she actually meant to hit me. Had she been sober she’d have missed me by more that 12 inches (I hope). Even for me in my crazy days her antics started to wear thin before long. Once I fled the country I didn’t see her for 15 years and it turns out we’ve both calmed down quite a bit these days. Thank fuck for that!

  46. Also, I don’t think she actually meant to hit me.

    Thats a pretty big omission from your original post.

  47. In the pursuit of brevity I condensed the story a bit. She did shoot AT me and missed by a very small margin. After reading the replies I realized that I should have made the situation more clear. Either way, it was fairly unhinged behaviour and I’m not with her now. Mind you, if I had thought she was really trying to kill me I still wouldn’t have ratted her out, but she’d have been out of the house long before the law arrived.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  48. Ahhh, love is a strange, murderous psychopath, at least if early 60s Joan Baez is to be believed.

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