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

Published June 2009

Chapter 8. Intervention Programs

Section 5 — Are court-referred batterers likely to complete batterer programs?

Multiple studies of disparate programs around the country have found high noncompletion rates ranging from 25 percent to 89 percent, with most at around 50 percent. [36, 87, 183] Rates vary because different programs have different standards for monitoring attendance as well as different policies regarding re-enrollment, missed meetings, and so on. A study in California found that, of 10 counties examined, only one maintained a database to track offender participation in the mandated batterer intervention program; it reported that 89 percent did not complete the program. [149]

Not surprisingly, adding on additional treatment programs increases noncompletion. For example, although 42 percent of the referred batterers in the Bronx court study failed to complete the batterer intervention program, that number increased to 67 percent for those also required to complete drug treatment. For those required to complete drug treatment alone, the noncompletion rate was 60 percent. [183]

High rates of technical violations are common for probationers sentenced for domestic violence, including violations of no-contact orders and drug abstinence, and failure to attend batterer intervention programs. Various probation studies found technical violation (noncrime) rates ranging from 34 percent of those sentenced in the Brooklyn felony domestic violence court [164], 41 percent in Colorado [125], 61 percent in Champaign County, Ill. [109], and 25 to 44 percent in Rhode Island (regular vs. specialized domestic violence supervision). [141]

Implications for Prosecutors

Prosecutors should be reluctant to recommend court-ordered conditions including batterer intervention programs unless the violators are closely monitored and enforced. If prosecutors are involved in the enforcement process, and bringing violators back to court, they must commit the time and resources required to enforce compliance and hold violators accountable. (Research basis: Multiple studies from disparate jurisdictions across the country.)

Implications for Judges

Judges should take all appropriate steps to ensure that court conditions are enforced, violators are returned to court promptly, and violation cases (i.e., revocation hearings) are heard expeditiously. (Research basis: Multiple studies from disparate jurisdictions across the country.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009