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Impact of Research on Legal Policy: The Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment

NCJ Number
Law and Society Review Volume: 23 Issue: 1 Dated: (1989) Pages: 117-144
Date Published
28 pages
Experimental research has recently shown a powerful impact on legal policy.
An experiment demonstrating a deterrent effect of arrest on domestic violence has shaped public policy. Stimulated by efforts to publicize the results of the Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment (Sherman and Berk, 1984a), police departments were persuaded to adopt an arrest policy for misdemeanor domestic violence. Over one-third of respondents from U.S. police departments in 117 cities said their policy had been influenced by the experiment, although respondents from some departments that adopted an arrest policy did not recognize the experiment or its results. Lempert (1987, 1984), citing medical research as precedent, suggests that this impact is premature and inappropriate until replications are completed. However, we find no indication that medical research employs a standard of delaying adoption of research results prior to replication. Our analysis suggests that publicity can encourage replication of legal research at other sites and thus improve the knowledge base for policy recommendations. Notes, references, tables. (Publisher's abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1989