Mandatory arrest in domestic violence calls is associated with early death in victims
New, and seemingly surprising, research from a major ‘randomised’ arrest experiment 23 years ago finds that domestic violence victims whose partners were arrested on misdemeanor charges – mostly without causing injury – were 64% more likely to have died early, from other causes, compared to victims whose partners were warned but not removed by police.
Among African-American victims, arrest increased early mortality by a staggering 98% – as opposed to white victims, whose mortality was increased from arrest by just 9%. The research also found that employed victims suffered the worst effects of their partners’ arrests. Black women with jobs whose partners were arrested suffered a death rate over four times higher than those whose partner received a warning at the scene. No such link was found in white victims.
The study’s authors say that causes are currently unknown but such health impacts are consistent with chronic stress that could have been amplified by partner arrest. They call for a “robust review” of US and UK mandatory arrest policies in domestic violence cases.
“It remains to be seen whether democracies can accept these facts as they are, rather than as we might wish them to be,” said Professor Lawrence Sherman from Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, who authored the study with his colleague Heather M. Harris from University of Maryland.
The findings were announced in the US on Monday 3rd March in Milwaukee and College Park, Maryland, and presented on Wednesday in London at the winter meeting of the Society of Evidence-Based Policing. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, who supported the follow-up study, will join in the presentation and discussion of the results. The study will be published in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Experimental Criminology.