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June 7, 2007

Should there be a registry for domestic violence offenders?

Thanks to this post at Crime & Consequences, I see from this local news article that Pennsylvania legislators are considering a bill to create a registry and database of persons convicted of a domestic violence offense.  Here are more details from the article:

Two years after a man shot his wife and later killed himself in Quakertown, officials in the Upper Bucks borough will likely urge commonwealth legislators to create a state-wide Internet registry of domestic violence offenders to help prevent such tragedies from happening again. Borough council expects to approve a resolution tonight calling on the Legislature to pass a bill known as "Robin's Law."

Introduced in the state House on May 31, the bill would create a Megan's Law-style database. Instead of sexual predators though, the picture, address and crime of domestic violence convicts will be posted online for anyone to see, according to a preliminary draft of the bill.

Though I have not seen much firm empirical evidence, I have heard lots of anecdotal reports from various sources that sex offender registries can be a helpful and effective law enforcement tool.  If this is true, my first instinct is to support broader use of offender registries.

June 7, 2007 at 07:39 AM | Permalink


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» Registry Proliferation from Sex Crimes
While registries have been proposed in other contexts, the suggested use for crimes of domestic violence is somewhat similar to the sex offender registries currently in force. Pennsylvania is considering Robin's Law for persons convicted of a crime of ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 7, 2007 10:28:59 PM


I guess I just don't understand what a registry does. So one register's as a domestic violence offender -- then what? Will partner's now leave their abusive spouses?

Posted by: | Jun 7, 2007 7:52:10 AM

How about if, when meeting/dating a new person, there is an easy way to see if the person has a prior DV offense?

Posted by: Doug B. | Jun 7, 2007 8:01:28 AM

I doubt that the offender registries would be that useful in helping law enforcement protect victims. I'm also skeptical of the claim that a registry is going to prevent people from entering into abusive relationships. There are some fairly substantial cognitive biases in favor of a positive perception of a new mate, and I doubt that knowledge of a prior conviction could overpower them.

Most of all, I think that these kind of registries become a tool of harassment, and a bar to successful reintegration of society for convicted individuals.

Sex offender registries may indeed be a valuable tool for law enforcement. But does making these registries _public_ further any real enforcement goal?

Posted by: J. Gillespie | Jun 7, 2007 8:22:42 AM

Domestic violence is a complex issue that is very common and should get more attention. A victim in an abusive relationship may become homeless if they leave the relationship and there is no guarantee they will be protected (there are cases where the DA was released from jail in the morning and was back in jail that afternoon on a VNC or new DA charge). Is there any evidence that public exposure of a DA offender will shame them into better behavior? if not I don't see any benefits.

I agree with the comments of J. Gillespie.

Posted by: John Neff | Jun 7, 2007 10:38:45 AM

I hope we all realize how easy it is to get a DV conviction...

Posted by: Gideon | Jun 7, 2007 9:10:32 PM

Additionally, why would their address need to be made part of the registry? If someone is thinking about dating a person, wouldn't just their name be sufficient?

Posted by: Gideon | Jun 8, 2007 7:11:53 AM

No, we do not need a Registry for CDV. If they plan to hurt again they will. However, what about the Offenders who serve their time, turn their lives around? Should they forever be haunted by the public? They already are haunted with these issues and deal with them everyday.

Posted by: Faye Y. Trotter | Jun 9, 2007 1:11:36 PM

The Kansas Sex Offender Board included an interesting note with their annual report last February. It was from the state's Domestic Violence advocates, stating there had been incidents of domestic violence stalkers using the Sex Offender Registry to stalk their victims. The stalking victims are obligated by law to make public their addresses, thereby ensuring their stalkers always knew where they were.

Posted by: Ilah | Jun 15, 2007 8:05:16 PM

Knowledge of a prior conviction for domestic violence will prevent me from dating a man, and I would be grateful for the information. I understand some people change--some do not. Some will do it again. People deserve to know of past offenses to have an opportunity to make their own choice, as so many abusers are secretive about their true behavior. This warning is also valuable information for those who decide to try a relationship with some one who has committed domestic violence, and it may help them leave a destructive situation sooner than they might have if they had no confirming evidence to consider. A registry may save lives. I married a man who turned out to be abusive. If I had known he had done it before, which he had, I could have been spaired a lot of pain. This marriage was very brief and very damaging to me. I would have skipped it completely and with no doubt of my decision. I would have left him immediately when his abusive behavior began, because at that time I looked him up, then accepted his lies that he had never acted as such before, was under stress, and would do anything to change his behavior. He had not been convicted before but will be soon. If he had, I don't know how readily or surely I would have discovered it by my own means. I have not been able to find his arrest record but one time on the internet, which is the current most adopted source for information for so many people. I believe that woman who chooses to know about this aspect of my former spouse's history has the right to know in an easily accessible way. This is just one example. I advocate public education of a nationally known, easy and free to access source of information, such as a registry, as well as facilitation of social acceptance of protecting one's self and secure life by checking someone's record. Now I understand personality disorders and mental illness far better than I would ever wish for any one. Some people cannot change, and people who want to know enough to avoid the ones who likely never will have a right to know. When a person can't play fair and safely with other people, it is all right to separate them out from the group. Violence is irrational. It is dangerous, period. I support a registry for domestic violence offenders.

Posted by: Marie Samson | Jun 29, 2007 5:06:25 AM

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