In a New York Times op-ed, Harvard fellow Radha Iyengar writes: “Two decades ago, in an effort to curb domestic violence, states began passing ‘mandatory arrest’ laws. Police officers responding to a call for help would no longer need to determine whether one person was truly violent or out of control; every time someone reported abuse, the police would simply be required to make an arrest. It seemed like a good tactic…Arrests would immediately stop the violence and might discourage abusers from further acts of abuse.
“But 20 years later, it seems the mandatory arrest laws are having an unintended, deadly side effect. The number of murders committed by intimate partners is now significantly higher in states with mandatory arrest laws…What the laws did not take into account was that eventually the victims of violence would come to realize that if they called the police, their abuser would certainly be arrested. And over the years, it turns out, that realization seems to have led victims to contact the police less.”