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Push To End Mandatory Arrest Of 16, 17-Year-Olds For Domestic Violence

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When police are called to a report of domestic abuse, often someone goes to jail.

In Washington state, the mandatory arrest law applies to suspects 16 and older when the officer believes a serious assault has occurred within the last four hours.

A proposal before the Washington legislature would increase the age of mandatory arrest to 18. Police could still arrest 16 and 17-year-olds, but it wouldn’t be required.

A panel of lawmakers took testimony Tuesday on a change in the law that would give police officers more latitude. Thurston County prosecutor Jon Tunheim told lawmakers he supports the change.

“Often times with 16 and 17-year-olds coming through my office at juvenile court we find that those arrests that were made under the domestic violence category, there’s really other issues at play going on,” he said.

Like mental health issues, for example.

Advocates for survivors of domestic violence also registered their support for the change in the mandatory arrest law.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.