Should There Be A Domestic Abuser Registry?

If a new bill introduced in New York goes through, people convicted of domestic violence or stalking would be required to register with a Domestic Violence Offender Database. Anyone convicted of a felony domestic violence offense against a family or household member would be required to join the registry, which would identify the school at which he or she is enrolled, the place of employment he or she works, and offender’s home address. The registry would be set up similar to, and accessible to the public like, the sex offender registry already in place.

The bill was prompted by the murder last week of 23-year-old Sarah Coit, who was allegedly stabbed and then beheaded by her boyfriend Raul Barrera on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Raul Barrera had several DV incidents on his record. In a press conference held yesterday, Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson, a co-sponsor of the bill, said:

“We have to protect women, and we do not want to wait for any murders to occur as they have done before we take action. We have already seen incident after incident, crime after crime, and there is an urgent need for us to do this like, yesterday.”

New York State already has a registry that requires all persons with orders of protection against them by related parties be listed. (On a related note, New York’s Elmira State-Gazette newspaper noted that orders of protections issued are rising dramatically. That may not mean that domestic violence is on the rise, though. It may just mean more victims are seeking orders of protection.) New York City tried to introduce a city-wide DV offender database last year, but failed; recently, a similar DV offender registry failed in Virginia, according to Gothamist.

I fully support a DV offender registry. I would want to know if I had someone in my life who had committed domestic abuse, whether we were romantically involved or if he or she were going to be around my future children, like a coach or a nanny.

That being said, though, a DV offender registry only empowers people with knowledge for the future. It may stop someone from going on a date with a man or a woman who popped up on the DV offender registry, but what about all the people who haven’t been arrested/convicted of domestic violence? If I had to put my money somewhere, I’d put it into support services for victims (transitional housing, job training, childcare) which empowers them in a more concrete way. A DV offender registry would only address part of the problem, but in my opinion, it’s not the most important part.

What do you think about a DV offender registry?

[New York State Assembly: Domestic Violence Offender Database]
[New York Post]
[Elmira Star-Gazette]

Worried that you or someone you know could be a victim of intimate partner violence? Here are some warning signs to look for, courtesy of Frisky contributer Judy McGuire.