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Mandatory arrest in domestic violence call-outs causes early death in victims
Date:3/2/2014

death such as heart disease, cancer and other internal illnesses.

Previous studies have shown post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) to be prevalent in victims of domestic violence, and that low but chronic PTSS has been linked to premature death from coronary heart disease and other health problems. The authors observed that the impact of seeing a partner arrested could create a traumatic event for the victim, one that raises their risk of death. An arrest may cause more trauma in concentrated black poverty areas than in white working-class neighbourhoods, for reasons not yet understood.

The exact cause of these surprising results still remains a 'medical mystery,' the study's authors say. But, whatever the explanation, the harmful effects of mandatory arrest poses a challenge to policies that have "been on the books" in most US states and across the UK for decades, they say.

"The evidence shows that black women are dying at a much higher rate than white women from a policy that was intended to protect all victims of domestic violence, regardless of race," said Sherman. "It is now clear that a pro-arrest policy has failed to protect victims, and that a robust review of these policies is urgently needed."

"Because all the victims had an equal chance of having their partners arrested by random assignment, there is no other likely explanation for this difference except that it was caused by seeing their partners arrested."

The Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment took place between 1987 and 1988, with support from the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the US Department of Justice. Sherman, who led the study from the University of Maryland, described it as "arguably the most rigorous test ever conducted of the effects of arrest."

The experiment enrolled 1,125 victims of domestic violence whose average age was 30 years. Each case was the subject of an equal probability 'lottery' of rando
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Contact: Fred Lewsey
fred.lewsey@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-788-579-8680
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

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