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

Published June 2009

Chapter 8. Intervention Programs

Section 12 — What should the prosecutor's or judge's response be to abusers who reoffend while enrolled or after completing a batterer intervention program?

Batterers rearrested while enrolled or after completing a batterer intervention program are at high risk for reabusing (also see question, "How many abusers are likely to do it again?"). The multistate batterer intervention program study found that the majority of court-referred batterers who reassaulted did so more than once. [84] Similarly, a Rhode Island probation study found that batterers who were arrested for domestic violence while their prior arrest was still pending, or while they were still on probation for an earlier offense (domestic or nondomestic), had the highest reabuse rates of any probated abuser, averaging over 50 percent. [141]

Implications for Prosecutors and Judges

Prosecutors should recommend incarceration, and judges should incarcerate, any offenders who reabuse while enrolled in batterer programs or after having completed the programs. Due to their limited "treatment effect," simply re-enrolling high-risk abusers in these programs endangers victims. Those abusers who reabuse are likely to continue doing so if left on their own. (Research basis: Both batterer program studies and general studies of court-identified batterers have found that repeatedly arrested abusers are chronic in their abusive behavior.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009