Judicial Oversight and Reducing Pretrial Domestic Violence

A critical issue in domestic violence cases is the risk of continued victimization during the pretrial period. Offenders may violate no-contact orders, further injure victims, or intimidate them.

To minimize these risks, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women and NIJ initiated the Judicial Oversight Demonstration, a field test that asked:

  • Judges to take a more active role in managing domestic violence cases before trial.
  • Sites to dedicate courts or days to processing domestic violence cases only.
  • Sites to expand services for domestic violence victims.
  • Courts to monitor defendants before trial and respond to violations with penalties.

In partnership with a number of court-related partners, judges oversaw all aspects of the case, from hearings to sanctions and treatment programs given to batterers. Courts in three locations — Dorchester, Mass.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; and Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Mich. — participated in the field test.

Participating communities worked to achieve three objectives:

  • Provide consistent responses to domestic violence offenses. Police departments created pro-arrest policies and arrested the primary aggressor at the crime scene.
  • Coordinate victim advocacy and services. Victim advocates worked with law enforcement and the court to contact the victim quickly after an incident, develop a safety plan for the victim, and provide treatment services.
  • Enforce strong offender accountability and monitoring. Courts carefully supervised arrestees, referred them to intervention programs, and instituted penalties if arrestees violated the terms of their probation.

Evaluating the Judicial Oversight Demonstration

NIJ and the Urban Institute collaborated to evaluate how the JOD initiative affected domestic violence investigations at the three demonstration sites.

Date Created: August 3, 2009