April 10, 2006
Contact: David Usher, <>
"You Call, We Haul" Arrest Policies Violate Civil Liberties, Report Says
Rockville, MD – Lisa Ortiz started the fight by throwing
objects. Then she bit boyfriend Scott Erickson, pitcher for the
Baltimore Orioles, on the arm. Soon Erickson's right foot was
bleeding. Acting in self-defense, Erickson tried to carry Ortiz from
When the police arrived they saw a tearful Ortiz curled up
behind the door. Ignoring the trail of blood, they arrested
Erickson, charging him with second-degree
assault. Afterwards Ortiz admitted, “Scott has never
been physically abusive toward me, and in no way do I feel
threatened or felt fear from Scott.” (http://www.espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/0722/1408560.html)
The Violence Against Women Act provides funding to states to
implement so-called “mandatory arrest”
policies. But according to a report issued today, these rigid
arrest policies routinely violate the notion of innocent until
“Justice Denied: Arrest Policies for Domestic Violence”
was released by RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse
Reporting – an organization that tracks bias in domestic violence
In the past, police dealt with domestic disputes by separating the
parties, mediating the conflict, or making referrals. In order to
avoid false arrests, police were reluctant to make an arrest unless
they had a judge-issued warrant.
But as a result of VAWA, 21 states and the District of Columbia now
require arrest, even if the conflict is mutual, one-time, or
minor. Eight other states strongly encourage arrest.
“Mandatory arrest tramples on civil rights, eliminates
officer judgment, and often ignores the diversity of a
victim's needs,” according to RADAR spokesman Richard
Davis. “More disturbing is how these policies preclude
dual arrests, even when both parties are equally at
fault.” Mr. Davis previously served as a police
lieutenant in Massachusetts and is the author of Domestic Violence: Facts and Fallacies.
The RADAR report, fourth in a series that documents how VAWA
violates Americans' civil rights and weakens the family, is
available at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies.pdf.
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org.
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