Mandatory Arrest And Restraining Orders by Richard L. Davis, A.L.M.

© Richard L. Davis, 1998

from Domestic Violence: Facts and Fallacies

Reprinted with permission of the author


 

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To become properly acquainted with a truth we must first have disbelieved it, and disputed against it.

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)


 

It is said that for every complex problem there is a simple and elegant solution that is wrong. I believe that our public policy makers love easy solutions.

• Indians on good land? Move 'em out.

• You want Texas? Start a war with Mexico.

• Crime problem? Bring back the death penalty.

• Prayer in schools will solve the moral lapse of the nation.

• Busing schoolchildren will end racial segregation.

• Problems with domestic violence in our homes? Make a law that will forbid it.

• Those who have been abused and are afraid of the abuser? Make a law that states we will arrest the abuser and then promise the victim that we will protect her.

Have you got any other problems you want us to solve?

Mandatory arrest and the use of civil restraining orders without proper criminal sanctions are assuredly flawed solutions for preventing the complex enigma of domestic violence. Americans have historically objected to the government's attempt to legislate what they consider their private morality or family problems. Prohibition was a colossal failure, and the government's policies concerning abortion appease almost no one. Only when arrest policies are coordinated with valid intensive probation, judicial sanctions for chronic abusers, and substantial and intensive community supervision by community domestic violence services coupled with early intervention educational programs in our schools will we begin to have progress.

The use of civil domestic violence abuse prevention orders, mandatory arrest of violators of those orders by police policy, and de facto mandatory arrest by preferred arrest policies for domestic violence often are most often not followed with proper criminal sanction by the courts. In most of the states that have preferred arrest policies, because of the fear of lawsuits by police departments and the inability of nearly anyone to understand just what is meant by "preferred arrest," police departments often require their officers to arrest someone in almost all domestic violence incidents.

The Abuse Prevention Order, commonly referred to as a restraining order, attempts to prohibit an abuser from further abusing the victim of domestic violence by issuing a civil protection order that demands the abuser vacate the home, stay away from both the home and the plaintiff, and have no contact of any kind with the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children. Under current Massachusetts law, similar to many other laws nationwide, a police officer who has probable cause to believe that a criminal provision of a domestic abuse restraining order has been violated is mandated to arrest the abuser even though the act is a misdemeanor. The criminally enforceable provisions of restraining orders are only those sections to vacate, stay away, and to have no contact with the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children.

This mandated arrest provision is unique in that a police officer is provided with no discretion to determine whether or not to make an arrest. This impugns the tradition of victim preference and officer discretion to respond to the desire and concerns of the victim that has long been recognized and generally accepted as an important role in determining proper police action. Mandatory arrest, and hence disregard of the victim's desire may also reinforce the belief of many women that the patriarchal institution of state government is still "Big Brother" and not "Big Sister." The law implies that women, at least some women, are incapable of making rational decisions on their own.

The only empirical scientific study to date that examines the complex but important relationship of mandatory arrest and domestic violence in Massachusetts concludes that, while arrest rates increased, the injury rates of victims and the number of domestic violence calls to police did not decrease. That same report proclaims: "The findings of Sherman and Berk in Minneapolis (1984) encouraged arrest in cases of domestic violence." What the report does not announce is that the Minneapolis study does not encourage the arrest of all suspects of domestic violence incidents. The experiment contained cases in which police were empowered to make arrests. In the second paragraph, of the first page, Sherman and Berk determine that "It may be premature to conclude that arrest is always the best way for police to handle domestic violence, or that all suspects in such situations should be arrested. A number of factors suggest a cautious interpretation of the finding."

The Massachusetts study omits that Sherman and Berk do not prefer mandatory arrest laws. In fact, Professor Sherman has written that Massachusetts, by passing "mandatory arrest" laws for misdemeanor domestic violence violations, has not helped but rather has compounded the problem. Sherman's report is resolute in its finding that mandatory arrest laws are unwise and should be repealed. Professor Berk is not as certain, yet he concludes, "A better policy than simple mandatory arrest for all offenders, regardless of risk category, would be to couple an arrest for high risk offenders with additional measures to protect victims."

No study nationwide has produced any empirical scientific evidence that mandatory arrest laws have been effective in reducing the number of assaults and abuse calls.? Such calls to police departments, both in Massachusetts and nationwide, continue to increase. The Massachusetts Trial Court operates a Judicial Response System, a statewide emergency program designed to assist law enforcement in resolving emergency legal situations by providing the services of a judge by phone when court is closed. In fiscal year 1985, 324 calls were placed; in fiscal year 1994, 14,878 calls were placed. Requests for restraining orders accounted for 13,374 of the total.

After the Minneapolis study and with support from the National Institute of Justice, further studies were conducted in Omaha, Nebraska; Charlotte, North Carolina; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Metro-Dade (Miami), Florida; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. A study in Atlanta, Georgia, was funded, but to date no results have been published. Interestingly, I placed many calls to the National Institute of Justice and could not locate anyone who knew anything about the Georgia project. When the findings of these studies (included in summary form in Appendix 1 of Davis) were released, the results were mixed. In general, the studies showed that arrest by itself may not be the primary factor in modifying future violent behavior. Those involved in the studies were not invited to appear on a series of television shows, as was Professor Sherman after the original Minneapolis study. In fact, these studies seem to have been universally ignored by public policy makers, women, and victims' right advocates. In an even more bewildering development, the results from most of these follow up studies, which for the most part did not substantiate the outcome of the Minneapolis study, were vilified and criticized by the very people who enthusiastically supported the conclusions reached by the Minneapolis study.

Some of these latest studies contain results that are complex but challenge the central premise that arrest works best in all domestic violence circumstances. Some of these most recent studies produced evidence that in some cases arrest would increase the frequency of future domestic violence. In Milwaukee, Omaha, and Colorado Springs, results from the studies demonstrated that those who were unmarried or unemployed, and were arrested because of domestic violence, became even more violent after the arrest. Among married and employed suspects, arrest did have a deterrent effect. Arrest results vary from city to city and from individual to individual. A summary of these studies to date indicates the following,

• Arrest reduced domestic violence in some studies but increased it in others. Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Omaha produced evidence that arrest increased violence in some cases. Colorado Springs and Metro-Dade reported that the risk of further violence was reduced.

• Arrest reduces domestic violence among employed people but increases it among unemployed people who often believe they have nothing to lose.

• Arrest reduces domestic violence in the short run but escalates violence later in older and distressed urban cities.

• A small but chronic portion of all violent couples produces the majority of domestic violence incidents.

• Many offenders who flee before police arrive are substantially deterred from future violence by warrants for their arrest.

• Police, because of prior calls for service, can determine which couples are most likely to suffer future violence.

These results suggest that arrest alone is not consistently the correct course of action. All intervention cannot and should not be by mandatory arrest policies or civil restraining order. In these studies, the majority of those arrested were released within a few hours, and only a small number were held overnight. The legal sanctions were limited to the arrest process. For sanctions to be effective, some sure, equitable and swift discipline or punishment must come from the actions of prosecutors and judges whose job is supposed to mete out sanctions when and if the abuser is found guilty.

Results from a study released in January, 1991, reveal that almost half of the female victims who reported they were victims of intimate violence said that violence was a private or personal matter and they did not report it to the police. Schools, separate treatment programs for both perpetrator and victim, shelters, and other community intervention and education may better assist some of these perpetrators, particularly those who are not chronic criminal offenders, and many of the victims.

I have found no studies or data to provide any credible reason for mandatory arrest policies, particularly without proper sanctions anywhere in the criminal justice system. Logic alone should lead us to conclude that, if mandatory arrest policies deterred criminal behavior, the same policies would be used in drunk driving, drug interdiction, and child abuse. Some of these crimes include mandatory sentencing policies but not mandatory arrest policies. The logical and empirical links between knowledge of the law and sanctions, arrest, consequences of an arrest, and alteration of future behavior have never been adequately presented.

Nowhere is there a carefully documented, well-organized, original, and convincing body of evidence that mandatory arrest has caused any change in criminal behavior. There is little conclusive evidence of either deterrent or protective effects of legal sanctions or treatment interventions for domestic violence. The conclusion I have reached, along with many others I have worked with in the criminal justice system, is that these procedures are just highly visible, inexpensive attempts by public policy makers to persuade women's and victims' rights advocates and battered women's groups that they, the public policy makers, are doing something/anything to combat domestic violence.

The police and court logs that are printed in many of this nation's daily and weekly newspapers can provide a carefully documented, well-organized, original, and convincing body of evidence that much of our current domestic violence policy remains as follows: "have the police arrest the abuser, have the court system let them go." What we are left with is the familiar refrain of "arrest them, let them go, arrest them, let them go." That is the only real something/anything that public policy makers have given us to combat domestic violence.

Many public policy makers and some practitioners in the criminal justice system believe that women will be safer once they have been separated from their abuser. The truth is that, in Massachusetts, mandatory arrest policy or not, the abuser is most often legally separated from the victim for only a matter of hours when arrested by the police. Quite frequently, there is evidence that the violence inflicted after separation of the couple can be substantial. In fact, in certain circumstances violence may even escalate. It is a fact that, "75 percent of spousal murders happen after the women leaves."

Even though no major study has been done on the effectiveness of civil protection orders concerning their effect in reducing spousal domestic violence, and there is a complete absence of any scientific empirical data on the efficacy of these orders, they are now available in fifty states. Both Peter Finn and Sarah Colson are aware of the lack of any credible or convincing evidence that demonstrated that restraining orders could effect violence recidivism when they wrote that

"Properly used and enforced, protection orders can help prevent specific behaviors such as harassment or threats which could lead to future violence. They also can help provide a safe location for the victim, if necessary, by barring or evicting an offender from the household, and establish safe conditions for any future interactions, for supervised child visitation." (Finn and Colson, 1990, p. 10).

A restraining order may be effective to deter the rational, reasonable, and stable person who is not likely to and has no history of acting out in a violent manner. If a person is rational, reasonable, and stable there should be little real need of a restraining order. With this segment of the population and properly implemented, restraining orders may prove to be effective. This is not, however, the person that law enforcement frequently has as a client.

Other than the eviction process, which is almost always accomplished with the aid of the police, Finn and Colson readily concede that they know of no scholarly apparatus, scientific study, or empirical data showing any evidence of what they conclude will be or has been accomplished. This lack of scientific study or empirical evidence did not stop Finn and Colson from being confident about achieving the proper results. Am I missing something here?

If empirical data from the National Institute of Justice studies demonstrate that the issuance of these orders in Massachusetts and elsewhere can encourage rather than deter acts of violence, as some of the studies have demonstrated, who will take responsibility for precipitating the violent actions of the abuser because of the issuance of the order? Are we to continue believe that it is always better to do something rather than nothing? Am I wrong to question the wisdom of issuing a domestic violence protection order if there is data that under certain circumstances the issuance of a domestic violence protection order may actually be the catalyst of further violence?


 

Reexamination

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Many advocates believe that Massachusetts does not have a coordinated, accountable statewide system that provides the support and safety planning necessary for abuse victims receiving civil protective orders. Most advocates agree, and data continues to demonstrate that enormous discrepancies exist in the way individual courts and district attorneys respond to violations of restraining orders. No one can dispute that restraining orders are being issued in ever-increasing numbers in Massachusetts. The numbers speak for themselves. From September 1992 to September of 1995, the state commissioner of Probation Registry of Civil Restraining orders summary lists the issuance of 145,263 orders from both civil and criminal courts.

Data demonstrates that few abusers are convicted and imprisoned for any length of time. In the Minneapolis study, only 37 of the 802 arrests had initial charges filed, and only 11 convictions resulted (1%), this despite the fact that victims went to meet with prosecutors in half the arrest cases.

In 1994, the Brockton District Court made 327 dispositions for violation of restraining orders. The court dismissed 202 of the violators, 112 were found guilty, 9 not guilty, and 4 were transferred to other courts. Of the guilty dispositions, only 37 were placed in jail, 21 were placed on probation, 18 received suspended sentences, 13 were placed in programs, and 23 were continued without a finding.

In 1994, the Brockton District Court made 713 dispositions for the misdemeanor crime of simple assault and battery. The court dismissed 523 of the violators and found 172 were found guilty, 14 not guilty, and 4 were transferred to other courts. Of the guilty dispositions, only 58 were placed in jail, 22 were placed on probation, 28 received suspended sentences, 10 were placed in programs, and 54 were continued without a finding. These dispositions reflect the Brockton Police Department increase in the number of domestic violence arrests because of mandatory arrest laws. The courts continue to treat the violations of the restraining order as a simple misdemeanor that is not much different from simple assault and battery. In deference to the courts, the crime of violating a restraining order remains a simple misdemeanor no different from that of the simple assault and battery in Massachusetts and most other states.

The Brockton Police Department made 897 arrests in 1994 for various criminal charges in a domestic violence venue. Some experts believe that most police officers now take the crime of domestic violence as a serious matter while the courts continue to treat these matters as simple misdemeanors. If there continues to be few serious dispositions for these arrests, some officers are likely to resist making arrests or at the very least to question the logic of such a policy. The majority of professionals in the criminal justice system know that defendants must be swiftly and surely held accountable by proper sanctions for their criminal acts. The majority of professionals in the criminal justice system also know that this rarely occurs.

Based on my twenty-one years of experience I do not believe that police officers will go it alone for very much longer. Most police officers I have worked with, contrary to popular belief, do care about domestic violence, particularly when they see its effect on children. The "lock them up and let them go" process, however, will do a lot to speed up the burnout many police officers experience in their careers. In Massachusetts, fewer abusers are being placed in counseling programs today than a few years ago. David Adams, director of EMERGE, the first counseling program in the state, continues to have fewer placements from the courts than he had a few years ago.

A two-year study by Andrew Klein, chief probation officer of Quincy District Court, suggests that civil intervention, especially largely unenforced civil intervention, will not deter repeat criminal activity among men who display a pattern of chronic domestic abuse. Grau, Fagan, and Wexler (1984) found no significant differences in subsequent abuse between women receiving restraining orders and women receiving other interventions. Moreover, they reported that subsequent violence was more likely among men with histories of severe domestic violence or prior records of stranger crime. In a study of stalking cases sponsored by the San Diego District Attorney's Office, almost half of the victims who received restraining orders reported that they, "felt their cases were worsened by them."

Like the blind men holding on to different parts of the elephant, advocates of civil restraining orders often disagree on the purpose of the order. Few, if any, who are concerned with domestic violence will dispute the fact that restraining orders were originally created to protect women who were being battered by their husbands or boyfriends and wanted help from the criminal justice system. Few, if any, who are concerned with domestic violence can look you in the eye and tell you that these civil protection orders really do provide the protection they promise. Dr. Susan Cayouette, clinical director of the Emerge battering treatment program has said that "Getting a restraining order or a divorce can give a woman a false sense of security: if a man is determined to find her and hurt her, it's pretty hard to prevent that."

The accounts below are from the log of the fifteen calls received by a Massachusetts judge during just one twelve-hour shift of the statewide emergency Judicial Response System. The Judicial Response System provides emergency judicial assistance 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, when court is not in session.


 

5:00 A.M. — Restraining order issued for a wife whose ex-husband broke into her apartment and raped her: victim required hospitalization.

12:45 P.M. — Restraining order issued for a woman whose estranged husband had stalked her and left messages on her answering machine threatening to cut her into little pieces.

1:45 P.M. — Restraining order issued for woman whose boyfriend was drunk and had assaulted her.

2:40 P.M. — Restraining order issued for mother of two children who was punched in the mouth with closed fist by boyfriend because she wouldn't give him money for more beer.

3:20 P.M. — Restraining order issued for young woman who was dragged out of her car by boyfriend and banged against the hood until she lost consciousness because he said he couldn't live without her.

3:45 P.M. — Restraining order issued for elderly woman who was verbally abused by alcoholic husband who had trashed their home.

4:30 P.M. — Restraining order issued for a young woman who had been hit in the head with a shovel by boyfriend and was being treated at the hospital.

5:10 P.M. — Restraining order issued for mother of three children whose estranged husband threatened to kill her if she was with another man.

6:00 P.M. —Restraining order issued for young woman whose ex-boyfriend broke into her apartment and choked her until she passed out.

8:00 P.M. — Restraining order issued for mother who was assaulted by her daughter, a drug abuser trying to obtain money for drugs.

8:15 P.M. — Restraining order issued for mentally disabled mother who was attacked by her daughter.

8:30 P.M. — Restraining order issued for man whose former girlfriend had broken windows in his truck and threatened him over the telephone.

9:35 P.M. — Restraining order issued for young woman who was hospitalized with a fractured skull after being kicked repeatedly in the head by a former boyfriend.

9:50 P.M. — Restraining order issued for mother of two children whose estranged husband broke into her house and repeatedly punched her in the face in front of the children.

9:55 P.M. — Restraining order issued for young woman whose ex-boyfriend had rammed his car into her car, dragged her out of her car, and kicked her in the stomach.


 

These desperate calls for help represent only one night and just a few of the 13,374 calls concerning domestic abuse in the period July 1992 to July 1993. To those who believe that domestic violence is a fifty-fifty deal between men and women, I would suggest that they review these records and then tell me where I've gone wrong. These records are not surveys or statistics; they are the real deal.

In 1994, the Administrative Office of the Trial Court and the Office of the Commissioner of Probation conducted a study to determine how many of these orders are followed up in court during the next few days and what is the profile of the defendants in these cases. Within two court days 97 percent were followed up with further court action. The most disturbing result is that only 35 percent of these defendants would have a criminal charge filed against them. Almost two-thirds of the perpetrators of these crimes would never receive any criminal sanctions for their abusive behavior that was brought to the attention of the judicial system. Read the fifteen log items again and try to determine which ten of these perpetrators deserve to be let off with no sanctions from the criminal justice system. Why is it that, once the criminal justice system is aware that someone has their skull fractured, or arm broken, or has been hit in the head with a shovel, or raped, the system is allowed to condone those actions by ignoring them? Ten of those perpetrators committed crimes against women and children, and the criminal justice system did nothing to bring the perpetrator to task. Carol Arnett, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council says, "...shelter workers have watched the criminal justice system fail to protect, and often even endanger women for so many years that we are very cautious about recommending restraining orders."

It seems that the criminal justice system, because of the specificity and rigidity of inflexible rules, often has abandoned its moral and ethical responsibilities for the victims of domestic violence and their children. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, a couple was charged criminally for leaving their dog unattended in a parked car on a hot day. In that same car, also left unattended, were two children, ages 4 and 5. The couple was not charged for leaving the children unattended. A spokesperson for the Essex County district attorney said, "Clearly this is a gap in the law, but as far as we know, child neglect is a civil matter that we don't get involved with." This spokesperson knows that by following the letter of the law he or she can avoid any personal responsibility or accountability. The capability of "passing the buck" has become a rite of passage in the world of the criminal or civil justice system. An avalanche of institutionalized, procedural, and bureaucratic protocol has desensitized the reasonable and prudent person, once the bedrock of our judicial system.

The courts should, and most often do know that in the majority of domestic violence instances the plaintiff of the restraining order has a history of being abused and that children are involved. The courts should know, and most often do know that in the majority of instances the plaintiff of the restraining order is looking for help. In their affidavit, almost 50 percent of the victims describe being hit. One in every four plaintiffs describes the defendant's causing property damage. Over 50 percent of the victims in the affidavit report being threatened. From the profile of most of the defendants, they are generally no strangers to courtrooms. Over 70 percent have previous court arraignments for criminal activity, and almost half have a prior criminal history of a violent offense against a person. Yet the civil and criminal justice system allows more than one-third of the orders issued during a routine court business day to be closed within fifteen days, with no further response from the criminal justice system other than a lot of paperwork by a lot of people with little sense of accomplishment. Lawrence W. Sherman suggests that restraining orders may be a cruel hoax on the victims. He also states that, "Until such rigorous testing is done, perhaps police should be required to advise victims that the orders may have quite limited practical value." Police officers may not be criminologists or social scientists but they understand very early in their career that criminal laws can act as a deterrent on the general populace, but for those who have a history of arrest and criminal behavior most laws have little to no affect in altering their behavior.

How long must behaviors similar to those listed above be allowed to continue before the public policy makers and women's rights advocates realize that their current strategies of preventing domestic violence are not working? A forceful police response to domestic violence will not work without a commitment to prosecution and without more sure and swift sentencing practices where warranted as well as laws with teeth in them. How about mandatory sentences for all second and subsequent offenses? These sanctions must be coupled with supportive and therapeutic services for both the perpetrator and the victim to deter reoccurrence.

Studies reveal that women in Massachusetts are in danger of abuse either if they stay with their abuser or if they leave them. They are in danger whether or not they take out a restraining order. Civil restraining orders, most without sanctions, that are issued approximately one every two minutes by courts in Massachusetts, rain down upon the criminal justice system like confetti at a parade. More than one out of every three orders issued or more specifically, 37 percent of those orders will be canceled fifteen days later. The criminal justice system will take no action on more than one out of every three orders issued. Often, nothing is done in those instances where women have been beaten and children terrified. There will be no change in the behavior of the abuser if there are no sanctions associated with their aberrant behavior. Little of these current reactive policies shield or protect the 43,000 children who witness this violent behavior. In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are abused at a rate 1,500 percent higher than the national average.

I believe that criminal restraining orders with sure and swift sanctions, such as intensive probation or incarceration for chronic offenders, could provide some effective short-term protection that many victims need to restructure their lives. These criminal restraining orders should be issued for spousal abuse only when there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. Although the original intent of restraining orders was to prevent women from being abused, I believe that anyone who lives in a conjugal-styled relationship should be included. A violation of this order should be a felony and a second or subsequent violations of the order should include a mandatory sanction.

The long-term effects of legal sanctions as a deterrent for domestic violence abusers are still not understood. "We simply do not know what the effects of legal sanctions for domestic violence are..." A study done by the U.S. Department of Justice reports, "given the prevalence of women with children who utilize restraining orders, their general ineffectiveness in curbing subsequent violence may leave a good number of children at risk of either witnessing violence or becoming victims themselves." Why do we continue full steam ahead when we know there are icebergs in the water?

Mandatory arrest without sure, equitable, and swift sanctions and the use of civil restraining orders with few if any criminal sanctions will continue to occasion ineffectual impact on the behavior of those involved. Given the history of the incapacity of our criminal justice system to curb violence I can find no historical evidence that it can produce the demise or even a decline of domestic violence. While most crimes are declining, aggravated assaults involving domestic violence continue to rise unabated. Violence within the family remains a crime that is culturally relative. If we begin behavioral modification role modeling by allowing mothers and fathers to spank their children "for their own good" where do we end?

There is simply no empirical evidence that either civil restraining orders or mandatory arrest policies with little sanctions by the courts have or can fulfill what public policy makers have promised. The case must be issued, tried, and the defendant convicted of a crime if the criminal justice system is to fulfill its short term responsibilities to the victim. We must remove the relatively small number of chronic violent offenders from the homes and the streets. If these abusers do not want to change their behavior then it is up to society to provide change for them. Incapacitation for the small number of chronically violent offenders is the best short term solution. [ Ed. note: Recent work suggests that many of these chronic offenders are mentally ill. Incarceration often exacerbates such problems.]

If it is the purpose of deterrence to let potential offenders know that those who break the law will swiftly and surely be punished, there is no question that we have failed. I know of no one in our contemporary criminal justice system that genuinely believes that domestic violence offenders or any other offenders are swiftly, surely, and equitably punished. Solving the problem of domestic violence cannot be accomplished through makeshift measures. What we need is a thorough reform of the criminal justice system and we must create a single unifying philosophy of sanctions as well as educational programs. What is the purpose of the criminal justice system for domestic violence abusers; retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation? Do we have an amicable and unified criminal justice system that can provide any of the above?

Appendix 1 (in Davis) provides a summary of the major studies funded by the National Institute of Justice. The majority of these studies do not provide any data that attests that restraining orders or mandatory arrest should be the preferred police response to domestic violence. Some of these studies demonstrate that the mandatory arrest policies sought by many domestic violence advocates may in the long run increase the abuse suffered by some victims. I believe that the body of research to date demonstrates that data are insufficient to determine proper policy choices for all agencies involved in domestic violence intervention. I beseech those who continue to be concerned with emphasizing police policies and intervention to read these studies. The majority of feminists and other advocates for victims of domestic violence that I have met over the last few years continue to claim, some in writing, that the first of National Institute of Justice studies, the Minneapolis study urged mandatory arrest of all abusers by police. The study never urged arrest in all domestic disputes as a police policy but, rather, urged officers be empowered to arrest. How so many people can remain so confused about such a consequential and significant fact continues to mystify me.

To date there are no National Institute of Justice studies the can demonstrate that the use of civil restraining orders has or can reduce domestic violence abuse. This is not to deny that under certain circumstances some victims of domestic abuse may find civil restraining orders or mandatory arrest helpful. This is also not to deny that under certain circumstances some victims of domestic abuse may find civil restraining orders or mandatory arrest harmful.

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