Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges

Published June 2009

Chapter 7. Judicial Responses

Section 15 — Do enhanced domestic violence dispositions require enhanced postdispositional court time and resources?

Studies have found that enhanced sentencing of abusers involving probation with relevant conditions (e.g., batterer programs, abstinence or no-contact orders) requires enhanced monitoring because many abuser probationers typically fail to comply.

Studies have documented that noncompliance rates prompting formal revocations of probation ranged from 12 percent in the Dorchester, Mass., courts to 27 percent in Milwaukee misdemeanor domestic violence courts. [103] In Cook County's four misdemeanor domestic violence courts, the revocation rate was 27.5 percent. [107] Higher rates were found in a series of other studies of domestic violence supervision programs across Illinois: 38.5 percent in Sangamond (Springfield) County, 33 percent in Peoria, and 22.8 percent in Tazewell County. The revocation rate was more than 50 percent in Quincy, Mass. [108, 109, 138] In Brooklyn's felony domestic violence court, the rate was 33 percent. [164]

Revocation rates may reflect probation resources and policies as much as they reflect probationers' conduct. For example, an evaluation of Rhode Island's specialized domestic violence probation supervision unit found that the unit's probation revocation rate was 44 percent, whereas the rate for comparable abuse probationers supervised in larger mixed caseloads during the same period was only 24.7 percent. Almost all of the violations were for noncompliance with the state's mandated batterer intervention program. [141]

Implications for Judges

Enhanced dispositions increase the likelihood of technical violations, which require additional judicial time if defendants are to be held accountable. (Research basis: Multiple studies in disparate jurisdictions.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009