$9.4 Million to Bias Justice?

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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced last week that the Justice Department (DOJ) would award a total of nine grants worth $9.4 million to national and local groups to implement “the department’s Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.” http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/melanie-hunter/doj-announces-94-million-prevent-gender-bias-policing-sexual-assault

Victim-Centered Investigations

Sadly, Attorney General Lynch stated the DOJ grant will be used to further victim-centered investigative approaches – a troubling new trend in criminal investigation procedure.

CPI hosted a Wrongful Conviction Day national teleconference the day before this grant announcement, where guest speakers from across the country shared their professional concerns with this new policy.

Ethical codes of investigators encourage investigators to act in an impartial and honest manner. However, victim-centered investigations erode this just calling by stating investigators should start by believing the complainant. Such an approach negates the presumption of innocence, a fundamental tenet of the American criminal justice system and a legal principle that should be of utmost concern to the Department of Justice. http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/sa/investigations/

Predominant Aggressor Policies

Research shows that In half of all domestic violence cases, the aggression is mutual with no clear-cut initiator. http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/IPV-Truthwgray.png This fact gave rise to the development of so-called “predominant aggressor policies.” These policies encourage law enforcement to assess who the victim and main aggressor are with many biased judgment calls.

Predominant aggressor policies rely on two assumptions, which are both erroneous:

1. In cases of mutual aggression, one of the partners must be the “predominant”
aggressor,” usually interpreted to mean that person exerts more power and control in the relationship
2. In almost every case, men exert more power and control in partner relationships
The notion of predominant aggressor serves to undermine or even negate the fundamental notion of which party initiates the aggression. In this sense, “predominant aggressor” is an oxymoron. CPI calls on DOJ to use the grant money to eliminate predominant aggressor policies and ensure fair investigations: http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/Predominant-Aggressor-Policies

Evidence-Based Grants

The Center for Prosecutor Integrity (CPI) urges Congress to award the $9.4 million in a way that will encourage evidence-based and research-supported policing. It is crucial that grants are awarded to police departments only if investigators conduct their investigations in a neutral and justice-driven way.