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PR: Ideology Over Science: Anti-Abuse Policies Put Victims at Risk, SAVE Report Says

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Contact: Teri Stoddard
Telephone: 301-801-0608

Ideology Over Science: Anti-Abuse Policies Put Victims at Risk, SAVE Report Says

WASHINGTON / February 11, 2013 – Widely used criminal justice measures intended to curb partner abuse are in fact placing victims at risk of violence, according to a research summary released today. Restraining orders, mandatory arrest, and aggressive prosecution policies are increasing, not decreasing partner violence, according to the SAVE report:

Aggressive criminal justice policies are funded by the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and then implemented according to state laws. The SAVE report reveals:

1. Protection Orders: VAWA funds the enforcement of restraining orders, but they widely believed to be ineffective in curbing abuse. A review of 119 homicide-suicides in North Carolina revealed the issuance of a restraining order was the most common trigger for such tragedies, found in 41% of such incidents.

2. Arrest: VAWA funds mandatory arrest policies in 20 states around the country. Harvard researcher Radha Iyengar found that “intimate partner homicides increased by about 60% in states with mandatory arrest laws.” This translates into over 600 deaths each year.

3. Prosecution: VAWA pays $35 million annually to prosecutors who follow mandatory prosecution policies. But one 48-city study found prosecuting restraining order violations doubles the number of homicides among white wives and increases risk for other groups, as well.

The SAVE report terms the continued taxpayer funding of these harmful policies as “A triumph of ideology over science and common-sense.”

“What kind of crazy law purports to be about stopping abuse, but in truth is escalating tensions and discouraging victims from calling for help?,” asks SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “Taxpayers should be demanding a complete overhaul of these irrational domestic violence programs.”

Over 40 leading scientists and organizations have endorsed major reforms to VAWA and state-level domestic violence policies: The Violence Against Women Act is currently up for reauthorization in Congress.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to domestic violence and sexual assault: