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Domestic Violence Policy: Exploring Impacts on Informing Police, Arresting the Offender, and Deterring Domestic Violence, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
126 pages
The primary purpose of this research was to examine how the content of a jurisdiction's domestic-violence policy influences the violent behavior of family members and intimate partners who resided in the jurisdiction.
Secondary objectives of the research were to test the relationship between policy and the likelihood that the police become aware of a domestic violence incident, as well as to examine how policy related to the likelihood that the police would make an arrest. All three objectives were addressed by combining data on domestic violence laws, police and prosecution domestic-violence policies, and local victim services with that from the geographically identified National Crime Victimization Survey for the years 1992 to 1998. Several logistic models were applied to identify the marginal effects of each policy on three outcomes: the probability that the police are informed of a domestic violence incident, the probability that the police make an arrest, and the probability that a household suffered from at least one form of domestic violence. The study found that although relatively few policies had an impact on reporting and arrest, most apparently reduced the overall probability of domestic violence. Four of the more interesting results associated with lower violence were those for mandatory arrest, firearm confiscation, prosecution, and Aid for Families With Dependent Children (AFDC). After controlling for many factors, the findings suggest that households in States that mandate arrest for domestic violence are less likely to suffer from domestic violence. Firearm confiscation statutes, because of their controversy, likely increased the public's awareness of the current sanctions for domestic violence. At any rate, the findings suggest that such statutes reduced the chances that homes within these jurisdictions would suffer from domestic violence. Another finding suggests that by specializing prosecutors' offices to be more sensitive to victims' needs, fewer homes in the jurisdiction will suffer from family or intimate violence. Increased benefit levels for AFDC apparently reduced the chances that the police would discover a case of domestic violence instead of increasing them. 49 references, 10 tables, 2 figures, and the codebook

Date Published: January 1, 2002