Disturbance: How States Fail To Treat Domestic Violence As A Crime
For decades, domestic violence was treated less like a crime and more like a private family matter that would occasionally get loud enough to disturb the neighbors. Although the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 finally established a federal law against domestic violence, in most communities beating one’s partner does seem to elicit more shock and disgust than it used to, the culture can’t change until the way people are punished for the crime changes.
Image by Rusty Frank via Wikimedia Commons
In Massachusetts, laws intended to protect domestic abuse victims’ privacy are being used to deny access to data about enforcement
One of the frustrating ironies to come out of efforts to collect information on domestic violence is that sometimes the laws meant to protect victims get in the way of obtaining data that could be used to improve services to them.
As part of a project to to shed light on how domestic violence is still treated differently from other violent crimes, we requested domestic violence response policies for state police departments in all 50 states. Today, we’re looking at North Dakota, where victims can be arrested, kicked out of their homes for, or even lose their children because they had the misfortune of being abused.
States have different policies on how they approach domestic violence - and many don’t have any policies at all
A request for domestic violence response policies for state police departments in all 50 states found 28 states willing to release the policies free of charge, or for a small fee. Twelve states reported having no such policy. Four - Hawaii, Kansas, New Hampshire, and South Dakota - rejected the request, arguing that granting it would compromise security, reveal confidential law enforcement techniques, or disrupt the operation of government.