Measuring Risk and Setting Bail

New Braintree, MA  July 8, 2013  A notorius case of domestic violence has been in the news in Maine.  Police officers shot and killed a man holding his family at bay.  The failure to measure “risk” and identify red flag behavior likely put this family and these brave officers at great risk.  The absence of a criminal record should mean nothing when making bail decisions because of the inherent secrecy that belies domestic violence and the proclivity for intimate partner abuse.  It is well known that those who would commit violence against a spouse or their own children exhibit a cowardice like no other and fly below the casual law enforcement radar when it comes to bail requirement and public safety.  The Psychological Autopsy of The Dexter, Maine Homicide revealed a host of stopping points and behaviors that required containment of Mr. Lake.  Unfortunately this did not occur. This may be the case of Mr. Phinney as well.  We do not know but the brave officers who responded to the 911 call must now wait to have thier names “cleared” by the same State Attorney General who may ultimately review the next case of domestic violence homicide – identical to this one.  Until bail conditions are tied in to level of risk posed by domestic terrorists these cases will continue to occur on a monthly or bimonthly basis.  Public safety requires an analysis of risk to make an educated assessment of bail conditions to mitigate the incidence of these cowardly acts.  The failure to assess the potential for terminal violence in cases of intimate partner abuse will result in the ongoing incidence of familicide that impacts us all.

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