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

Published June 2009

Chapter 8. Intervention Programs

Section 7 — Can court monitoring enhance batterer intervention program attendance?

Court monitoring can increase batterer intervention program attendance rates, specifically through periodic court compliance hearings. In the multistate evaluation of four different programs, researchers found that batterer intervention program completion rates rose from under 50 percent to 65 percent after a court introduced a mandatory appearance 30 days following imposition of a batterer intervention program mandate. [82] Similarly, implementation of a specialized domestic violence court in San Diego significantly increased attendance. Among other changes, the court instituted postdispositional compliance hearings. [180] Other domestic violence courts across the country have demonstrated completion rates of more than 50 percent, including the Brooklyn misdemeanor domestic violence court, where completion rates for batterers referred to two different batterer programs was documented at 68 and 77 percent. [31]

In a related finding, a large Massachusetts study found that those defendants ordered to attend programs as a condition of probation had a completion rate of 62 percent, whereas those ordered to attend without probation supervision had a completion rate of only 30 percent. [18] A Rhode Island study found that a specialized probation domestic violence supervision program more aggressively monitored and enforced program compliance, as measured by the number of violation hearings brought to court, than the state's regular probation program involving officers with mixed caseloads. [141] A study of three domestic violence courts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Massachusetts found significantly increased offender compliance with batterer intervention programs, both in showing up and staying enrolled. All three courts featured postdispositional review hearings. [103]

Implications for Prosecutors and Judges

To increase program participation, prosecutors should recommend and judges should hold postdispositional compliance hearings as well as placing abusers on supervised probation, even if their convictions were for misdemeanors or ordinance violations. (Research basis: Limited research has been conducted on this issue, but no research suggests that increased judicial monitoring does anything besides increasing batterers' attendance in the programs.)

Performance Measure: A 75-percent completion rate has been documented for batterers referred from the Circuit Court of Cook County (Chicago) to 30 area batterer intervention programs. (Research basis: A single study of 549 male domestic violence probationers who were referred to 30 area batterer intervention programs and completed them or were terminated at the time of the study. [12])

Date Created: June 5, 2009