Punishing the Victim or Practicing Tough Love: Exploring Police Officer Justifications for Using Dual Arrest in Domestic Violence Cases

Mary A. Finn, Georgia State University
Pam Bettis, Georgia State University

Mandatory arrest policies may be resulting in a backlash of victim arrests. Reports of dual arrest vary from jurisdiction, ranging from a low of 8.7% (Jones & Belknap, 1999) to 33% (Martin, 1997). This paper examines the rationales employed by police to justify dual arrests. Content analyses of the thought protocols of experienced police officers (n = 24) who reported that they would arrest both parties was undertaken. Three themes emerged from this analysis. Officers justified arrest of both parties citing concern for civil liability, the desire to force both parties to obtain counseling for their relationship, and their deference to the court as the authority that is most qualified to settle the dispute and to determine responsibility.

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Updated 05/20/2006