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

Published June 2009

Chapter 8. Intervention Programs

Section 11 — What  should the judge's response be if court-referred abusers are noncompliant with  programs?

Among lower risk abusers on probation for domestic violence, one study cited increased enforcement of batterer program compliance (as indicated by significantly more violators brought into court by probation officers for noncompliance) as one major factor correlating with reduced reabuse over a two-year period. This was compared to a control group of probationers who were also referred to batterer intervention programs but were not monitored as rigorously or brought back to court because of noncompliance. As a result of court violation hearings, most noncompliant probationers were required to attend weekly compliance court sessions until they completed the program. Lower risk abusers included those who had not previously been probated for domestic violence. In addition to attending more revocation hearings, these probationers had slightly more contact with probation officers, officers attempted to contact victims at least once, and the probation officers supervised specialized domestic violence caseloads. [141]

An evaluation of two model domestic violence courts found that victims in the court with significantly more probation revocations for noncompliance (12 percent vs. only 1 percent in the other court) reported significantly less reabuse than in a comparison court. Victims from the other model court reported no difference with victims in a comparison court. In the court with more revocations, victims reported a lower frequency of physical assaults up to 11 months after the study incident. The defendants in the court with the high revocation rate had a significantly higher number of prior arrests than defendants in the comparison court (8.3 percent vs. 3.7 percent). Researchers posited that lower domestic violence arrests were obtained primarily through the early detection and incarceration of probationers who either continued to reabuse or failed to comply with conditions. [103]

Broward County probation study researchers concluded the following correlation between program noncompliance and reabuse: If abusers are not afraid of violating their court orders, they are also not afraid of the consequences of committing new offenses. [60]

Implications for Judges

Judges should respond to noncompliant abusers immediately to safeguard victims. (Research basis: Multiple studies have found that doing nothing with regard to noncompliant, court-referred abusers results in significantly higher rates of reabuse. Two studies involving jurisdictions across four states suggest that vigorous enforcement of conditions is the key in deterring reabuse.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009