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Failure of Arrest to Deter Spouse Abuse

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 29 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1992) Pages: 7-33
Date Published
27 pages
This article presents the methodology and results of an experiment in Charlotte, N.C., that tested the relative effectiveness of three police responses to spouse abuse: advising and possibly separating the couple, issuing a citation to the offender, and arresting the offender.
North Carolina law gives police the authority to arrest a spouse abuser for a misdemeanor offense committed in the arresting officer's presence and also for a misdemeanor committed out of the officer's presence when the officer has probable cause to believe the offender committed a misdemeanor and either would not be apprehended unless immediately arrested or might cause physical injury to himself/herself or others or damage to property unless arrested immediately. The test experiment used the entire patrol force and operated citywide 24 hours a day. Cases that met specified eligibility criteria were randomly assigned to one of the three treatments; these cases were followed for at least 6 months to determine whether recidivism had occurred. Measures of recidivism were obtained through the use of both official police records and victims interviews. Analysis of prevalence, incidence, and time-to-failure rates indicated that arrest was no more effective than the other two treatments in deterring subsequent abuse. 7 tables, 9 notes, and 39 references

Date Published: January 1, 1992