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Charlotte Spouse Assault Replication Project: Final Report

NCJ Number
J D Hirschel; I W Hutchison III; C W Dean; J J Kelley; C E Pesackis
Date Published
267 pages
This replication project examines the deterrence effectiveness of various police responses to misdemeanor spouse abuse in Charlotte, N.C.
A study of police responses to spouse abuse in Minneapolis, Minn., found that arrest of the alleged abuser was the most effective means of deterring recidivism. In replicating the Minneapolis study, this project tested the efficacy of three police responses to spouse abuse: advising, and possibly separating, the couple; a citation to the offender; and arrest of the alleged offender. The project began on October 1, 1986. Cases that met specified eligibility criteria were randomly assigned to one of the three treatments, and these cases were followed for at least six months to determine whether recidivism occurred. Recidivism measures were obtained through official police records and victim interviews. Arrest was not found to be more effective than the other police responses in reducing recidivism; thus, there is not adequate support for a mandatory or presumptive arrest policy based on specific deterrence. The study advises that arrest may still be a more conscionable choice than non-arrest. Failure to arrest may communicate to abusers, victims, and the public that assault between family members is not as serious as assault involving unrelated persons. 85 references, 27 tables, 6 charts, and 6 graphs