Are domestic violence laws more harmful than helpful?

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)

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

, 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

, 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

and had their study "

," recently published in the journal

. 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.

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

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