Pragmatic Punitiveness: The Institutionalization of Criminal Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Veronica L. Horowitz, Ryan Larson, Allison Nobles, Victoria Piehowski, Joshua Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper analyzes the implementation of a domestic violence law in Minnesota that, in 2006, made the violation of a Domestic Abuse No-Contact Order a felony-level offense. Since this legal change, the rate of conviction for Domestic Abuse No-Contact Order felonies skyrocketed with stark racial disparities among Black and Native American residents, relative to Whites. Analysis of case files reveals that Domestic Abuse No-Contact Order convictions result from a range of behaviors, from seemingly mutual contact between the defendant and protected party to serious physical violence. We argue that the Domestic Abuse No-Contact Order law facilitates pragmatic punitiveness for legal actors. It is easier for prosecutors to demonstrate contact occurred than to prove domestic assault. Yet, the penalty for a Domestic Abuse No-Contact Order is as severe as the penalties for other domestic abuse-related crimes in Minnesota. Thus, the Domestic Abuse No-Contact Order law enables prosecutors to respond forcefully to domestic violence while avoiding additional burdens on their time and resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Keywords

  • carceral feminism
  • criminal protection orders
  • Domestic Abuse No-Contact Orders
  • mandatory policies
  • pragmatic punitiveness
  • state paternalism

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