Debate over domestic violence registry after pregnant woman set on fire

The idea is similar to a sex offender registry.

CAPITOL HEIGHTS, MD. (WUSA9) - In the wake of a pregnant Prince George's County woman being set on fire in an alleged domestic violence attack, WUSA9 is taking a closer look at renewed interest to create a domestic violence abuser's registry in Maryland similar to a sex offender registry.

One candidate for Prince George's County sheriff is making the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. Kendal Wade has released a video that asks: "What if people had a tool at their fingertips to help them learn more about a potential mate and help them avoid a domestic violence situation?"

RELATED: Family of Md. woman set on fire shares story

"We have to do something," Wade said, noting Prince George's County leads the state of Maryland in domestic-related murders.

But legislators in other states considering similar measures have been cautioned about unintended consequences.  

"What we do see are a list of unintended and harmful consequences," cautioned Erica Olsen writing for the National Network to End Domestic Violence in a 2016 article entitled Thinking Critically About Domestic Violence Offender Registries.

Olsen cites a 2016 study that provides evidence that a registry might cause more victims to keep violence a secret from authorities.

The study by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that at least 60% of victims did not want police involvement because of concerns about privacy.  Victims also worried about retaliation and the impact on children, according to the study.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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