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Preventive Effects of Arrest on Intimate Partner Violence: Research, Policy and Theory

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: November 2002 Pages: 51-80
Date Published
November 2002
30 pages

This paper addresses methodological limitations of previous research concerning the deterrent effect of arrest on intimate partner violence.


In this analysis, the authors re-examine Sherman and Berk’s 1984 Minneapolis experiment in which the researchers studied the deterrent effects of arresting perpetrators of intimate partner violence. The Minneapolis experiment revealed that arrest did have a strong deterrent effect on subsequent acts of violence in the home, which widely influenced police policies around the country regarding arrest of offenders. The authors of this paper re-examine this deterrent effect by reviewing the results of five experiments, all of which were conducted as a response to the original Minneapolis experiment. The five experiments, collectively referred to as the Spouse Abuse Replication Program (SARP), attempted to replicate the results of the Minneapolis experiment in their own cities. The authors re-examine this data, correcting some of the previous methodological problems, in order to assess the current deterrent effect of arrest on subsequent acts of domestic violence. Multivariate analysis of 4,032 cases revealed that arrest did have a consistent, yet modest, deterrent effect on subsequent acts of violence. These findings can guide and inform policy regarding police arrest procedures in cases of intimate partner violence. The authors suggest that arrest policies targeting repeat offenders may have the most impact on reducing repeat violence. Tables, references

Date Published: November 1, 2002