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LAWS 2301 (42)

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LAWS 2301
Ronald Saunders

Criminal Justice SystemPage 217235Battered Women Definition Models and Prosecutorial Policy A McGillivrayIntroductionThe family is not considered a legal entity by the state nor has the issues of state responsibility for family order been widely addressed in light of broader goals of peace and social orderDespite the mutuality of social and family reform there remains tremendous reluctance to involve the blunt processes of the state in the delicate web of family relationshipsWife battering is in fact a deviance so widespread it is almost a social normViolence toward women by their husbands has at the least been tolerated and in many societies institutionalizedHistorically the states interest has been the control rather than the denunciation of wife batteringIn numerical terms wife battering is a major social problemOne in ten Canadian women in an intimate maritaltype situation will be assaulted by her partner The assault will be repeated for one in twenty and those who bring criminal charges will have been assaulted an average of 35 timesThe LRCC calls the wife battering problem serious and the Canadian Association of Social Work identifies if as the current most pressing concern within the spectrum of domestic violenceThe Criminal LawProsecutorial PolicyDiscretioninvestigative prosecutorial and judicialis as much a hallmark of the Canadian legal system as is the right of the accused to make full answer and defenceCriminal acts are not equally prosecuted nor are judges bound to dispose of cases in any rigidly controlled fashion to achieve absolutely uniform sentencingThe decision to control prosecutorial discretion in wife battering cases is properly a policy determinationThe Saskatchewan NoDrop PolicyPrior to the institution of the policy discretion was exercised primarily on the basis of the victims choiceImplicit was an individuallevel model of wife abuse a model inappropriate to a situationallevel judgementThe relationship between victim and offender and the repetitive nature of abuse led to an assumption by prosecutors that the victim in at least some cases had consented to the actSince women frequently wanted charges withdrawn police and prosecutors tended to avoid the matter at the outsetThe criminal law is less concerned with the interest of a particular victim than with deterrence of crime in general and the interest of society at large
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