Domestic Violence Case Processing: A Serious Crime or a Waste of Precious Time?

Domestic Violence Case Processing: A Serious Crime or a Waste of Precious Time?

Domestic Violence Case Processing: A Serious Crime or a Waste of Precious Time?

Domestic Violence Case Processing: A Serious Crime or a Waste of Precious Time?

Synopsis

Laws governing the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence have changed through the passage of mandated arrest and prosecution policies. However, while arrest rates for domestic violence increased throughout the 1990s and 2000s, these cases continue to receive lenient treatment by our courts. Most are resolved with dismissals. Currel-Dykeman explores if the court community literature can offer a possible explanation to this problem. She analyzes the local legal culture of two courts, a traditional court and a specialized problem solving court to understand how they discuss and process domestic violence cases differently. Court workgroup members were interviewed and candidly spoke about these cases in a way that helped explain the problem.

Excerpt

Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviors used by one person against another to exert power and maintain control over them (U.S. Department of Justice, 2013). It can include physical, emotional, verbal, financial, and sexual abuse. Incidence of domestic violence occurs in both heterosexual and same-sex partnerships and can impact communities of every race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. While domestic violence impacts a diverse population of individuals, it impacts women disproportionately over men. A recent study found that, “85 percent of the victims were female with a male batterer. The other 15 percent includes intimate partner violence in gay and lesbian relationships and men who were battered by a female partner” (Rennison, 2003). Additionally, the NCVS estimated that between 1993 and 1998, 22 percent of all violent crimes against women and 3 percent of all violent crimes against men took place between intimate partners. Likewise, the National Violence Against Women Survey stated that for women over the age of 18, the prevalence rate was 25 percent for women and 7.6 percent for men. So, while domestic violence is a social problem that impacts all members of our community, it victimizes women most often. Thus, I will be discussing the social problem from that perspective.

Women have been enduring physical abuse by their husbands and intimate partners for hundreds of years. In the early 1800s, it was lawful for husbands to physically beat their wives (Jones, 2000). Indeed, the Supreme Court of Mississippi held that a “husband had a legitimate right to discipline his wife physically, as long as it was done in a moderate manner with a stick no thicker than his thumb” (Bradley v State, 1 Miss (1 Walker) 156 (Miss. 1824)). By the late 1800s, Maryland, Delaware, and Oregon had enacted laws that made “wife-

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