“The implementation of a domestic violence registry would inform potential victims that they are at risk and greatly reduce the cases of domestic violence in New York state.” NY State Senator Michael Nozzolio
WESTBOROUGH, MA April 4, 2016 The prospect of mandated reporting in cases of domestic violence will add to already the over burdened state and federal bureaucracy. It cannot be done and may be a violation of the privacy rights of those accused of domestic violence. Or at least that is what they tell us. I have encountered abusive men who I have escorted off someone’s property after a verbal argument – before it became a physical encounter. In conducting my investigation, I learned that the guy had active protection from abuse orders that were taken out by three different women. That should be fuel for thought and the first question asked on the dating websites.
In New York, state Senator Michael Nozzolio has proposed a bill that would create a registry for those convicted with violent felony domestic violence. The bill entitled Brittany’s Law after a 2009 murder in which Brittany Passalacqua and her mother were killed in a domestic violence homicide. It has been passed in one form or another by the NY State Senate four times but the state legislature has yet to take up the bill. Why? Some believe that a published list of abusers is a violation of human rights – like if a guy shows up on the list he may not be able to get anyone to date him anymore. That seems like a reasonable consequence for beating up an intimate partner or two.
3 thoughts on “Is a DV registry an abuse of rights?”
I have specific issues with a DV registry and general issues with registries used in the US.
The specific issues with a DV registry have to do with a gap between theory (good) and practice:
(1) There are places in the US where beating a spouse isn’t grounds for arrest, and a severe beating results in a $25 fine and perhaps an overnight in jail. I doubt that these instances would ever make it into a directory, so how complete and accurate would the information in the directory be?
(2) Women are known to stay with abusers for reasons of “love” or children. Would a registry affect their behavior? If not, is this worth the effort and cost?
(3) A restraining order isn’t a conviction or even proof of the presence or absence of actual violent behavior. Judges vary in the willingness to issue such orders with some far more stringent than others. Do they then constitute a sufficient basis for a directory?
The more general concern with directories are:
(1) Other countries have provisions for expunging the criminal record after a certain number of years of good behavior. The US doesn’t: we permanently brand individuals regardless of whether “they have paid their debt to society” and changed.
(2) Directories are used in background checks for jobs and credit, regardless of whether this is appropriate. Thus we make a class of people unable to find more than minimum wage work, ineligible for education loans, etc. Is it really in societies interest to do that?
(3) Local agencies are inconsistent in reporting. The FBI lacks accurate reporting on traditional crimes. Treating people “equally” before the law isn’t going to happen.
I’d love to have solutions for these problems, but they don’t now exist.
Vic Crain you are correct theoretically and you understand the many hurtles through which the abused must jump both judicially and emotionally. But to bear witness to the impact of domestic violence homicide and do nothing is unacceptable. One district attorney we spoke to while conducting our psychological autopsy of Steven Lake in Dexter Maine said – “there was nothing we could do to prevent this” (the homicides)