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Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment

NCJ Number
L W Sherman; R A Berk
Date Published
8 pages
This test of Minneapolis police methods for responding to domestic violence found that arrest was more successful in reducing recidivism than police counseling of the parties or barring the assailant from the home for 8 hours.
The experiment, conducted from early 1981 to mid-1982, applied only to simple (misdemeanor) domestic assaults, where both the suspect and victim were present when the police arrived. The design called for each officer to carry a pad of report forms, color coded for the three different police responses. Each time the officers encountered a situation that fit the experiment's criteria they were expected to take the action indicated by the report form on the top of the pad. Police reports were given to the research staff for followup. A total of 330 victims were involved in the experiment. Repeat violence between the parties encountered by the police was measured in two ways. Police records were reviewed over the 6 months following the initial police visit to determine if additional violence had been reported among the parties. Also, victims were interviewed over the 6 months after the initial police visit to determine if the violence against them had been repeated. Findings indicate that arrest was most effective in reducing recidivism. The report concludes with a brief discussion of the factors that suggest a cautious interpretation of the findings. Tabular and graphic data and 22 references are provided.