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Effects of Arrest on Intimate Partner Violence: New Evidence From the Spouse Assault Replication Program, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2001
15 pages
Publication Series
A multisite analysis cosponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to determine whether arrest was more effective at reducing subsequent domestic assault than such informal, therapeutic methods as on-scene counseling or temporary separation.

Analysis of 314 incidents in the 1984 Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment revealed that statistically significant reductions in subsequent offending were reported both in victim interviews and in official police records when police arrested the assaulter. The Spouse Assault Replication Program used field experiments conducted in the early 1990’s by police agencies and research teams in five jurisdictions: Charlotte, NC; Colorado Springs, CO; Dade County (FL); Milwaukee, WI; and Omaha, NE. The analysis focused on 4,032 incidents in which males assaulted their female intimate partners and compared the number of repeat offenses when batterers were or were not arrested. Results revealed that arrest was associated with less repeat offending in all five measures of repeat offending and that reductions in repeat offending were larger and statistically significant in the two measures derived from interviews with victims. Reductions in repeat offending were smaller and not statistically significant in the three measures derived from official police records. The effectiveness of arrest did not vary by jurisdiction. More than half the suspects committed no subsequent criminal offense against their original victim during the follow-up period regardless of whether or not the batterer was arrested. A minority of suspects continued to commit domestic assault regardless of the response. The analysis concluded that arrest had a direct deterrent effect and suggested the need for further research to determine policies and practices that will prevent further victimization of their partners. Figure, tables, and 17 references

Date Published: July 1, 2001