Are domestic violence laws more harmful than helpful? - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Are domestic violence laws more harmful than helpful?

Meghan Novisky, from Kent State, took her data and teamed up with Dr. Robert Peralta, from University of Akron. (Source: WOIO) Meghan Novisky, from Kent State, took her data and teamed up with Dr. Robert Peralta, from University of Akron. (Source: WOIO)
Their study "When Women Tell," was recently published in the journal Violence Against Women. (Source: WOIO) Their study "When Women Tell," was recently published in the journal Violence Against Women. (Source: WOIO)
AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Ohio law now requires mandatory arrests in domestic violence cases, but a study claims that law may hurt more victims than it helps. 

According to the National Institute of Justice, Ohio is one of 22 states that have a mandatory arrest law in domestic violence situations and has since 1998. To be clear, if an officer arrives to a domestic situation and crime has been committed, like a verbal threat, a thrown glass or physical harm, the law states someone, usually the aggressor or both people, must go to jail. When Meghan Novisky, of Kent State University, started to look at the mandatory arrest law, she had a hunch it might be flawed.

"I think there have been problems with it from the very beginning. Really, I mean, you're removing discretion from officers. Discretion is the heart of police work. So any time you're asking officers to show up at a scene and not have any discretion for what they can do, it can create limitations," says Novisky.
 
So the PhD candidate started a two-year study. She interviewed 101 women in domestic violence shelters and started to see a pattern: Women wouldn't call for help because of the mandatory arrest law for various reasons.

"I'm really trying to protect my children," Novisky threw out as a reason for not calling. "Or I may get abused more severely because he's going to come back more angry. Or I might end up arrested and with a criminal record."
 
Novisky took her data and teamed up with Dr. Robert Peralta from University of Akron and had their study "When Women Tell," recently published in the journal Violence Against Women. Their findings don't say the law needs to be thrown out. They do suggest more studies are needed to determine if it is preventing victims from reaching out to police, knowing someone is going to jail.

"The intention was good, but a 'one size fits all' approach comes with some problems that need to be looked at," says Dr. Peralta.

Click here for the latest domestic violence statistics broken down by county from the Ohio Attorney General.
 
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