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

Published June 2009

Chapter 8. Intervention Programs

Section 2โ€” Does the type or length of batterer intervention program make a difference?

Several studies have found that the type of batterer intervention program, whether feminist, psycho-educational, or cognitive-behavioral, does not affect reabuse. [8, 51, 88] One study also found that a "culturally focused" program specifically designed for black male abusers did no better than the program offered to all abusers. In fact, those assigned to a conventional, racially mixed group were half as likely to be arrested for reassaults compared to those assigned to a black culturally focused counseling group or a conventional group of all blacks. [87]

However, a rigorous study based in New York City found the length of the program (26 weeks compared to 8 weeks) may make a difference, with the longer program proving more effective at deterring reabuse. The researchers suggest that the longer program's increased effectiveness was due to its longer suppression effect while abusers were mandated to attend, whether or not they actually attended. [42] On the other hand, a multistate study of four programs ranging in length from 3 to 9 months found no difference in subsequent reabuse. [84, 85, 88]

Implications for Prosecutors and Judges

As long as the batterer intervention program is focused on preventing reabuse, the type of program makes no difference. However, longer batterer programs may be better than shorter programs. (Research basis: Although only one study speaks to the suppression effects of batterer programs, the finding that batterer programs provide little treatment effect suggests that programs' effectiveness may result from their suppression effect and/or the context in which they operate, including probation supervision or periodic court compliance hearings. These findings argue for longer programs.)

Performance Measure: By statute, batterer intervention programs mandated for convicted abusers in California Penal Code ยง1203.097(A)(6) must be conducted for two hours each week and for a minimum of 52 consecutive weeks.

Date Created: June 5, 2009