Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon Patten

Second Advisor

Dr. Lois Bosch

Third Advisor

Doug Kunick, M.S.W.


This exploratory paper is an attempt to examine the factors that led to the criminalization of domestic violence. Beginning with an overview of the history of reform movements to end family violence, the report then reviews the factors that influenced the enactment of mandatory arrest policies in Wisconsin, as well as across the United States. The last sections critically examine existing research on the deterrent effects of arrest. Research suggests that arrest may have some deterrent effects on different offender subgroups, however, may be a relatively weak sanction and deterrent effects may be short term. The greatest point of intervention appears to be in the implementation of the law. Unintended consequences of mandatory arrest policies are identified and alternative approaches are discussed. Existing gaps in the literature are identified and suggestions for future research are provided. Finally, the report addresses the implications of domestic violence has on social work practice.


SC 11.MSW.1999.McAbee.HC

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