Hastings Women’s Law Journal


The effects of arrest in domestic violence have been debated since Professor Lawrence Sherman et al. published their widely cited empirical studies in the 1980s and early 1990s. These studies, however, focused on the perpetrator and did not consider the effects of arrest on the victim's willingness to report repeat violence to the police. In this article, Professor Niemi-Kiesiliinen argues that the effect of arresting the perpetrator on the behavior of the victim is a crucial factor in determining the overall effectiveness of arrest. It is likely that the arrest of the perpetrator deters violence, but it is equally possible that it encourages the victim to call the police in repeat incidents of violence. This article presents a rereading of the empirical studies. It argues that the effect of arrest on the victim should have been taken more seriously in the research design. It also suggests that a more convincing interpretation of the results is achieved when the victim is taken into account.