Outline the criminal justice response to domestic violence against females
Domestic violence is abusive and violent behavior towards a partner in a relationship. In as much as domestic violence affects both men and women, most of the abuse remains to be directed towards women, and they end up being physically or emotionally abused with their partners. Domestic violence has been one of the challenges that the criminal justice system has faced and has tried several strategies to eliminate the rising cases of violence against women. According to Westera et al., (2016), the United States has been working for the last thirty years to combat violence against women using the criminal legal system. However, the system has remained ineffective as it has faced challenges while preventing domestic violence. Therefore recommends for other approaches that incorporate different policies such as public health, economic, human rights and community policies to improve the efficiency of the criminal legal system to prevent domestic violence against women.
The New York State law requires that criminal justice should have specific documentation of domestic violence that includes the circumstances under which the crime occurred and the police finding at the crime scene. Therefore, the police departments in every state have written practices on how to respond to the incidences of domestic violence (Spohn & Tellis, 2012). Police go through training and education on the procedures of responding to calls from domestic violence victims. They learn how to treat the call with priority since any delay to respond to the call puts the life of the victim in danger. The police also learn the necessary skills on how to interact and question the victim on the events that occurred before the crime, thus gain relevant information that is useful as evidence in the criminal court system.
According to Spohn & Tellis, (2012), the dispatchers assess the incidence of domestic violence in correlation with the legal or the individual factors. Therefore, the dispatchers ask questions that range from the individuals involved in the crime and their names, physical details, the type of injuries that the attacker uses, the injuries sustained as well as the use of any drugs. The dispatchers must also obtain information on the history of domestic violence as well as restraining orders and if the suspect was on probation (Barata, 2007). These questions help the officers to document the incidence of domestic violence which they will use when handling the case in the criminal court system. The criminal justice system ensures that they train the dispatcher on how they can engage the victims such that they remain on the phone line and give more details until the officer arrives at the scene.
Historical treatment of domestic violence against women
The early researchers on domestic violence found out that police were reluctant on issues concerning domestic violence against women. (Spohn & Tellis, 2012). The criminal justice overlooked the incidences of domestic violence, therefore failed to protect the victims. The report by Cho and Wilke (2005) indicates that the criminal justice system had a problem responding to incidences of domestic violence. The victims failed to report the victimization to the police for several reasons such as personal privacy, the need to protect the offenders, as well as the victim considering the crime to be minor and the fear of the vengeful offenders.
There were increased cases of women being abused which attracted the attention of the research and legal communities; thus the introduction of the mandatory arrest policies (Spohn & Tellis, 2012). The mandatory arrests enabled the police to arrest the offenders efficiently. Several states employed this law in 1986, and the police could arrest the offenders on the first call of the incidence of domestic violence once they had established that the victim had sustained physical injury and abuse as well as when the offender with past domestic violence record violated the restraining orders.
When and why the changes occurred in responding to domestic violence against women
The report by Barata (2007) acknowledges that for the past 20 years, the police response to incidences of domestic violence has had critical changes that have led to effective response approaches. Criminal justice has developed various approaches that not only focus on the protection of the victims but also the prevention of domestic violence against women. It is critical to mention that even with the existence of the reforms in domestic violence policies, some women may fail to report the abuse that occurred without someone else being a witness.
The law enforcement agencies introduced policies on the response to the incidences of domestic violence as some of the standard practices that are used even in today’s criminal justice system include the careful approach of the officers to the crime scene. The officers have to maintain the discretion of the emergency sirens and lights and stay near the victim’s house while observing and listening before they can announce their presence (Barata, 2007). If the officers are not careful, the offender might become more aggressive towards the victim upon realizing that the victim called the police. Another policy is that the law enforcement agencies have to send dispatch two officers at the scene since incidences of domestic violence are usually unpredictable and dangerous (Sherman & Berk, 1984). The approach does not only benefit the officers but ensures they protect each other against the offender. They will also manage to complete multiple tasks within a short time. For example, one officer can conduct risk assessment while the other officer secures the victim and arrests the offender.
Unlike before 1986 when the police officers were reluctant to react to domestic violence, the new policies require the police to treat the first call of the victims as the highest priority as it enhances the protection of the victims (Barata, 2007). Therefore the police departments have to classify all calls concerning domestic violence as life-threatening calls, and they have to respond to the calls even regardless of whether the victim cancels the call or not. The victim might have called to cancel the call after being threatened by the offender, and their lives might be at risk. The officers have the responsibility of approaching the scene and observe any unusual activity.
The law enforcement agencies also require the police officers to separate the offender and the victim in separate rooms to allow each party to give sincere information without being intimidated by the other party (Spohn & Tellis, 2012). In some incidences where there is a language barrier, the law enforcement agencies have to involve the officer who understands the native language of the victim and help them understand the questions and answer them accordingly. In as much as the officers try to gather as much information as possible from the victims and the offender, they have to ensure that the parties give a real account of what happened and remain consistent with the information throughout the case. The law enforcement agencies thus encourage the officers to organize on how they can later contact the victims (Barata, 2007). The officers have to obtain at least two working phone numbers that they can use to remain in contact with the victim.
The officers have to inquire if the accused person is a firearm holder and seize the firearm before they even take the actions further to the extent of killing the victim. The agencies also require the officers to collect evidence that could help to handle the case on domestic violence (Cho & Wilke, 2005). The officers have to take photographs of the injuries sustained by the victims since t the victim’s bruises might heal after some days or weeks, and the officer might not have sufficient evidence to present for the prosecution of the offender. The officers should also interview the neighbors as they might be a potential witness to help in solving the case.
There have been significant issues of handling cases of domestic violence, and some agencies have come up with a specialized unit that mainly focuses on the cases of abused women. Some agencies place their domestic violence units under the Family Justice Center which came into existence in the early 1990s to provide assistance and support services to the victims of domestic violence (Barata, 2007). The units also allow the victims to access all services of the criminal justice system in the same location. The victims can seek the services of the attorneys, sheriff’s deputy and victim advocates. Additional policies that have been implemented and are effective today include the use of video and the audio recording as evidence, checking on the suspect’s outstanding arrest warrants as well as ensuring the officers maintain calm attitude as they interview the victims to enhance trust encourage victims to give sufficient details.
The current issues with the Criminal Justice’s Response to domestic violence
Criminal justice has made remarkable reforms on how they can effectively respond to domestic violence against women. They have acknowledged that there is need to incorporate several policies as it is not only an issue of concern to the criminal justice system but also an economic problem, a public health issue as well as community and human rights problem (Westera et al., 2016). Even though the police used to be slow to exercise their power in protecting women against domestic abuse, criminal justice has successfully implemented policies that ensure the police respond effectively to the victims.
Westera et al., (2016) also indicate that domestic violence impacts significant costs on the economy of the United States. There is a strong correlation between the incidences of domestic violence and poverty. Women from the low-income community are more likely to become victims of domestic violence while unemployed men are mostly the perpetrators of violence towards women. Women are unable to leave abusive relationships due to economic instability (Westera et al., 2016). Domestic violence is also an issue of public health concern since women suffer not only physical abuse but also emotional and they need to seek medical help from the medical practitioners. Criminal justice also involves the community in preventing domestic violence. They encourage the community to provide feedback on the incidences of domestic violence as they discuss not only the crime trends within the community but also the law enforcement agencies involved protecting women against domestic violence (Sherman & Berk, 1984). Human rights advocates have also had a significant role in protecting women against violent partners.
The criminal justice system has also found out that focusing on the offenders could be the most appropriate strategy in combating domestic violence. The report by Barata (2007) indicates that several police departments are currently focusing on the offenders to enhance their possibility of getting reliable and sufficient information that they can use while addressing the causes of domestic violence. Once the police have established the causes of domestic violence against women, they can impellent implement appropriate approaches in preventing violence against women. It is essential to note that the police department uses a comprehensive approach to enhance the possibility of successfully eliminating domestic violence in society.
Barata, P. C. (2007). Abused women’s perspectives on the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31(2), 202-215.
Cho, H., & Wilke, D. J. (2005). How has the Violence Against Women Act affected the response of the criminal justice system to domestic violence? J. Soc. & Soc. Welfare, 32, 125.
Sherman, L. W., & Berk, R. A. (1984). The specific deterrent effects of arrest for domestic assault. American sociological review, 261-272.
Spohn, C., & Tellis, K. (2012). The criminal justice system’s response to sexual violence. Violence against women, 18(2), 169-192.
Westera, N. J., Kebbell, M. R., & Milne, B. (2016). Want a better criminal justice response to rape? Improve police interviews with complainants and suspects. Violence against women, 22(14), 1748-1769.