How It Serves Political Interests to Issue Restraining Orders Falsely

Posted on October 21, 2014


Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), some $10 billion has been invested over the past 20 years in procedures meant to redress violence against women, and restraining orders are the centerpiece of a host of related legislative measures.

The truth is restraining orders can’t prevent violence; they’re just pieces of paper. Their only value is rhetorical (they influence). They put defendants on notice, and they make it look like the government is protecting people.

When defendants are falsely blamed, their (isolated) protests are seldom registered or credited by others. Because their complaints are discounted or disregarded, they don’t tarnish the court’s image or inspire the press to investigate.

At the same time, it serves the court’s interests when defendants are falsely blamed. The greatest likelihood that an order of the court will appear to have averted violence is realized when that order is issued to someone who was never a threat at all.

Put another way, if the court only issued restraining orders to volatile people, it’s a fair bet that a discomforting percentage of orders would be violated, and the negative statistics would urgently disclose their ineffectiveness as deterrents.

Issuing a majority of restraining orders to people who pose little or no violent threat, contrariwise, ensures violations will be fewer and less consequential by and large. Negative figures, like murders, are thereby minimized, and the process appears to live up to its promise of insulation.

All of this is to say that if you issue 60 restraining orders against nonviolent people to every one issued against a violent aggressor, violations of restraining orders resulting in injuries or death will be comparatively few respective to the total number of people “restrained.” It skews the odds in favor of positive perception.

It’s good PR.

More restraining orders, besides, guarantees greater job security for those who administer them. It means there’s more “work” to get (handsomely) paid for doing.

More restraining orders also means greater substantiation of claims of “epidemic” this and that, which keeps dominant political interests happy and thriving (cha-ching!)…and justifies ramping up the process even further.

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