Revisiting the Effect of Mandatory Arrest on Intimate Partner Homicides

Yoo-Mi Chin , Baylor University
Scott Cunningham, Baylor University

Iyengar (2009) finds that mandatory arrest laws, which remove officer discretion by making arrest a required action, increase intimate partner homicides, perhaps due to the law reducing reporting through an increase in the cost of reporting or simply via increased retaliation. Due to disagreement among researchers in classi?cations of warrantless domestic violence arrest laws, we reinvestigate the issue further using a new legal classification by Hirschel (2008) supplemented with our own corrected effective dates of adoption. We find that there is no evidence that mandatory arrest laws increase intimate partner homicides. Instead, we find suggestive evidence that discretionary arrest statutes, which allowed officer discretion to make arrests, decreased current and former spousal homicides. A closer examination of Iyengar’s original study reveals that a syntax error in her coding caused her to incorrectly conclude mandatory arrest laws increase intimate partner homicides. Once the error is corrected, the study’s original positive effects also disappear.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity