Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges
Published June 2009
Chapter 8. Intervention Programs
Section 11 — What should the judge's response be if court-referred abusers are noncompliant with programs?
Among lower risk abusers on probation for domestic violence, one study cited increased enforcement of batterer program compliance
(as indicated by significantly more violators brought into court by probation officers for noncompliance) as one major factor
correlating with reduced reabuse over a two-year period. This was compared to a control group of probationers who were also
referred to batterer intervention programs but were not monitored as rigorously or brought back to court because of noncompliance.
As a result of court violation hearings, most noncompliant probationers were required to attend weekly compliance court sessions
until they completed the program. Lower risk abusers included those who had not previously been probated for domestic violence.
In addition to attending more revocation hearings, these probationers had slightly more contact with probation officers, officers
attempted to contact victims at least once, and the probation officers supervised specialized domestic violence caseloads.
An evaluation of two model domestic violence courts found that victims in the court with significantly more probation revocations
for noncompliance (12 percent vs. only 1 percent in the other court) reported significantly less reabuse than in a comparison
court. Victims from the other model court reported no difference with victims in a comparison court. In the court with more
revocations, victims reported a lower frequency of physical assaults up to 11 months after the study incident. The defendants
in the court with the high revocation rate had a significantly higher number of prior arrests than defendants in the comparison
court (8.3 percent vs. 3.7 percent). Researchers posited that lower domestic violence arrests were obtained primarily through
the early detection and incarceration of probationers who either continued to reabuse or failed to comply with conditions.
Broward County probation study researchers concluded the following correlation between program noncompliance and reabuse:
If abusers are not afraid of violating their court orders, they are also not afraid of the consequences of committing new
Implications for Judges
Judges should respond to noncompliant abusers immediately to safeguard victims. (Research basis: Multiple studies have found
that doing nothing with regard to noncompliant, court-referred abusers results in significantly higher rates of reabuse. Two
studies involving jurisdictions across four states suggest that vigorous enforcement of conditions is the key in deterring
Date Created: June 5, 2009