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Formal and Informal Deterrents to Domestic Violence: The Dade County Spouse Assault Experiment

Anthony M. Pate and Edwin E. Hamilton
American Sociological Review
Vol. 57, No. 5 (Oct., 1992), pp. 691-697
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095922
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Formal and Informal Deterrents to Domestic Violence: The Dade County Spouse Assault Experiment
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Abstract

Recent formulations of deterrence theory suggest that informal sanctions mediate the effects of formal sanctions. A randomized field experiment in Dade County was designed to test the relative effectiveness of different police responses to incidents of spouse abuse. We test whether the deterrent effect of arrest interacts with the informal sanctions implied by employment status and marital status. The results indicate that, overall, formal arrest has no effect on occurrence of a subsequent assault. This overall lack of effect masks two offsetting effects: Arrest has a statistically significant deterrent effect among employed suspects, whereas arrest leads to a significant increase in subsequent assaults among unemployed suspects. The interaction effect between arrest and employment status was also statistically significant. There were no significant effects associated with marital status. The interaction effect between arrest and a composite measure of "commitment" based on both employment and marital status was also statistically significant.

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