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Mandatory Arrest for Domestic Violence: A Systematic Review

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Marna Miller, Katelyn Kelley - June 2022

Washington State law requires that, given probable cause, police must make an arrest when called to a domestic violence (DV) incident. The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a systematic review of the research on mandatory arrest in DV cases. We found no evidence that mandatory arrest is more effective than discretionary arrest at reducing future DV offenses. Specifically, we found six rigorous studies of the effect of mandatory arrest on DV recidivism. On average, across the studies, mandatory arrest had no effect on whether an individual committed a subsequent DV offense. Further, another study found that mandatory arrest laws did not affect a state’s prevalence of DV. A separate study found that mandatory arrest laws had no effect on DV homicide.

Report ID: 22-06-1201

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