I appeared on the Information Radio Network's News & Views this morning to discuss Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama's selection of Senator Joe Biden (D-Del) as his vice-presidential candidate. To listen to the audio, click here and start at 47:00. The discussion, co-hosted by Dr. Larry Bates and Chuck Bates, focused on Biden's role as the principle architect of misguided federal domestic violence policy. Biden spearheaded the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and its two subsequent re-authorizations. I've often criticized the modern trilogy of mandatory arrest, the primary aggressor doctrine, and "no drop" prosecution policies for trampling the rights of the accused. One of the points I made on the show is that current DV policies can give the average street cop the power to make child custody decisions. Here's how: Because of the mandatory arrest laws, police officers are strongly encouraged to make arrests on domestic violence 911 calls, even though many of these calls do not involve genuine domestic violence. Because of the primary aggressor doctrine, police officers are strongly encouraged to arrest men, not women. Because of "no drop" prosecution policies, prosecutors move forward with cases which contain so little evidence that they would never be prosecuted were it any other crime. Domestic violence has become a political crime, and it is handled in a political manner. Men often will plea-bargain these cases and accept batterers' treatment programs because they need to get out of jail and cannot afford to fight the case legally. If the man is in a deteriorating relationship, the fact that he has been arrested for domestic violence and in some cases accepted a plea-bargain harms his ability to gain custody in the subsequent family law proceedings. In other words, the police officer's decision to arrest him after the 911 set in motion a chain of events which will strip the father of custody of his children and force him to the margin of his children's lives.
Glenn Sacks, MA for Fathers & Families