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Transcending the criminal law’s “one size fits all” response to domestic violence.

Brenner, Hannah
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law. 19: 301-351.

This article takes a different approach to exploring the criminalization
of domestic violence by transcending the pervasive either/or
dichotomy that dominates the field. It builds on my previous body
of work that examines how mandatory arrest laws are often incorrectly
categorized into a uniform classification scheme, leading to a
complexity of problems like different research outcomes. Despite the
actual variance in these laws, however, there remains a problematic
uniformity that is characteristic of the current approach: many of
the existing laws, policies, and practices tend to impose a “one size
fits all” solution to a problem that is incredibly complex. The current
singular approach might be necessary as a matter of practicality
and public welfare, but it does not adequately respond to all of a
particular victim’s needs or to the needs of all victims. Many never become engaged with the criminal justice system in the first place.
Others, who do, still face tremendous barriers that compromise their
safety and/or impede their ability to leave their abuser. Reconciling
these competing ideas has proved challenging.
Through analysis of recent state-based legislative and policy
innovations focused on two areas that are particularly relevant for
victims-housing and victim safety as it relates to improving the
effectiveness of orders of protection-this article proposes a new conceptual
framework. Using these victim-centered state laws and policies
as a starting place, this article illustrates how the existence of a
myriad of strategies and innovations can ultimately transcend the
limitations inherent in the existing one size fits all response of the
criminal law. (excerpt)


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