Addressing Violence in Criminal Justice Practice, Workshop Summary

Held in Washington, DC, on January 21–22, 2004 and sponsored by National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Table of Contents

Addressing Violence in Criminal Justice Practice, Day 1, January 21, 2004

Addressing Violence in Criminal Justice Practice, Day 2, January 22, 2004

Addressing Violence in Criminal Justice Practice, Day 1, January 21, 2004


Sarah V. Hart

Sarah V. Hart, Director, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) welcomed participants to the Addressing Violence in Criminal Justice Practice Workshop. She thanked everyone for coming to the workshop and assisting NIJ staff on topics and issues to explore. NIJ, the research, development, and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice (DOJ) provides research on a number of issues involving both social science and technology (beyond the Federal agencies) for the benefit of State and local governments and practitioners.

NIJ understands that at the intersection of research and practice, the pursuit of knowledge can help improve the criminal justice system in the United States, including improvement at the State and local levels. NIJ also is mindful that the vast majority of crime is handled at the State and local level, and the Institute wants to make sure that the its work will be relevant to State and local level practitioners, including police, prosecutors, and corrections staff. Director Hart was very pleased to see a wide variety of people among the group, giving balance and perspective to the workshop's agenda and goals.

The purpose of the workshop is to address how violence is reduced and how one ensures that criminal justice policies and practices minimize violence in communities. For example, with respect to the revictimization of domestic violence victims, what kinds of activities and programs within the criminal justice system can prevent revictimization and witness intimidation? There are many issues throughout the criminal justice system for which one needs to have an understanding of the practical aspects of the system, how it works, and the theories of violence. Director Hart stated that NIJ is immensely grateful to the participants for taking on this task, and for sharing their insights on these issues. She stated that the meeting is a followup to NIJ's Violence Theory Workshop, conducted in December 2002, at which theories of violence were discussed. She noted that a few of the academic researchers who attended that meeting agreed to participate in this second workshop.

Frank Hartmann, Workshop Moderator

Director Hart introduced the workshop moderator, Frank Hartmann. Dr. Hartmann is Executive Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He asked the workshop participants to introduce themselves.

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  • Judge Ronald Adrine, Cleveland Municipal Court, Cleveland, OH.
  • Carol Arthur, Executive Director, Domestic Abuse Project, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Felicia Collins-Correia, Executive Director, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc., Tulsa, OK.
  • Scott Decker, Professor, University of Missouri–St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.
  • Mark Ells, Research Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska, Lincoln's Center on Children, Families and the Law, Lincoln, NE.
  • John Firman, Director of Research, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Alexandria, VA.
  • Phyllis B. Frank, Director, VCS Community Change Project, Rockland County, NY.
  • Ron Goethals, Director, Dallas County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, Dallas, TX.
  • Jim Jordan, Director, Office of Strategic Planning and Resource Development, Boston Police Department, Boston, MA.
  • Kenneth Keller, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor, Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor, Freehold, NJ.
  • Patricia Lee, Managing Attorney, San Francisco Office of the Public Defender, Juvenile Division, Berkeley, CA.
  • Judge Kip Leonard, Lane County Juvenile Court, Serbu Justice Center, Eugene, OR.
  • Elaine Nugent, Director of Research and Evaluation, American Prosecutors Research Institute, Alexandria, VA.
  • Lawanda Ravoira, President and CEO, PACE Center for Girls, Inc., Jacksonville, FL.
  • Richard Rosenfeld, Professor, University of Missouri–St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.
  • Barbara Shaw, State Agency Director, Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, Chicago, IL.
  • Erin Sorenson, Executive Director, Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, Chicago, IL.
  • Joyce N. Thomas, President/CEO, Center for Child Protection and Family Support, Inc., Washington, DC.
  • Ann Marie Tucker, Executive Director, Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Niagara Falls, NY.
  • Ashbel T. "AT" Wall, Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Cranston, RI.
  • Margaret Zahn, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. On leave this year to direct the Violence, Crime and Justice Policy Division, RTI International.

Also present were Glenn R. Schmitt, Deputy Director, NIJ, and the following NIJ representatives: Bernie Auchter, Henry Brownstein, Betty Chemers, Thomas E. Feucht, Jocelyn Fontaine, Catherine McNamee, Lois Mock, Angela Moore-Parmley, Marty Schwartz (NIJ visiting fellow from Ohio University), and Bryan Vila.

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Dr. Hartmann outlined the format of the workshop, which allowed participants to discuss and focus their ideas about preventing or lessening the effects of violence by having a conversation within the group. At the same time, several key persons, including Dr. Hartmann, will periodically ask participants to clarify their discussion points in an effort to make sure that participants' points of view are understood and addressed throughout the workshop. Dr. Hartmann asked participants to address two key questions: (1) what do you mean by violence and (2) what is it that participants do to lesson violence? Participants also were requested to closely listen and ask questions, as needed. At the end of the workshop, participants should be able to return to and be more effective in their communities.

The discussion opened with a conversation about how people live with trauma and violence in their everyday lives. There is a need for new arrangements of resources and systems to respond to the new forms of violence. Thus, it remains important to respond at the right time, with the right persons. When this is done correctly, there is a positive effect in terms of reduced criminal behavior and fewer calls to the police from certain homes. For example, with the use of a social service team, with licensed professionals, creative measures can reduce the level of harm and trauma taking place in at-risk homes. The participant also described the critical link to family connections when dealing with violence. It also was suggested that there is less tolerance for violence at this time.

A participant discussed the issue of girls and violence and alternative programs in State centers working to prevent incarceration and institutionalization. The media plays a role in portraying girls as predators, but the data show that girls account for a very small number of violent crimes in the United States, and that there has been a relabeling of girl offenses. For girls, mutually combative assault and battery offenses happen within the home, and today they are no longer dealt with in the family courts. Instead, girls are being charged with assault and battery, being removed from the home, and placed in the juvenile justice system, versus being seen as a victim of violence within the family. It also was reported that girls and boys are different in their violent behavior practices. When girls use knives and guns, it is typically as a result of personal conflict; girls are more likely to murder family members and friends, getting involved with relationships that are central in the lives of girls. For the most part, girls do anything to save a relationship as opposed to boys, who use violence in the context of stranger violence. Thus, it is important to look at girls with respect to violence against parents, siblings, and friends. It is important to note one key pathway that leads girls to violence is prior victimization. One out of four girls in the U.S. general population will be sexually abused before age 18. Girls in the juvenile justice system can have a rate of prior sexual abuse of more than 90 percent. Moreover, girls with a history of academic and educational failures are four times more likely to be person offenders than girls without that history.

Efforts have been made to create a safe zone for girls, to address the prior victimization and trauma driving their behavior. A participant described a program, which is nonresidential and community-based, that operates with the belief that girls should be kept in their communities and in same sex programs (all girl programs). The program is an educational and remedial one that allows girls to earn middle and high school credits and their high school diplomas; the program also offers college scholarships. There also is a comprehensive-care management component to the program, addressing family needs through outreach to the family, counseling on victimization and resiliency, and addressing the major developmental domains of girls (e.g., physical, emotional, family, sexuality, family and relationships, intellect, and spirituality). Work also is done with girls to deal with issues of trust, finding their center, and inner wisdom to deal with prior victimization.

One participant described a new effort funded by a private grant to hire social workers to work with girls in a city public defender's office. The hope is that a 1-year grant can be used to institutionalize the social worker position, which is linked to the holistic representation that has been provided in the participant's office, including a full-time attorney for educational advocacy.

To clarify program services, girls take classes in the public school setting, striving for educational success. Also, they receive transition services for several years, which helps their families, and professionals who understand their developmental needs are trained to work with the girls. A participant was concerned that many communities do not have specific programs for girls, and this is why they enter the adult system.

In terms of preventing future offending and assisting girls, it is important to avoid having them waved into the system. At the same time, it is important that girls be held accountable for their actions, while recognizing that they are youth/kids who have developmental needs and trauma behind the behavior.

A participant defined violence as the use or threatened use of force or pressure against a person, one self, a group, or a community that results in harm. This definition also is used by the Centers for Disease Control. Several lessons were noted regarding prevention and intervention. There is a need for (1) organized State level infrastructure and systematic programming with various systems, (2) working partnerships, (3) appropriate resources for key programs and groups (e.g., early childhood and reentry prisoners), and (4) dealing with youth's victimization history and its effects on brain development.

Dr. Rosenfeld stated that over the last decade, by any indicator, violence has declined in the United States. There have been decreases in homicide rates as well as in nonlethal serious violence, including family violence, violence directed at children, and violence directed at one another by partners. He asked, what is it that happened over that 10-year period that is associated with these declines, and how might we continue to sustain these declines? In response, it was noted that the overall country's economic standing overlaps with violence trends, and that the media plays a role in our understanding and lack of understanding of such violence trends and prevention efforts.

NIJ staff noted the importance of examining an individual's lifetime experiences with violence, because the roots of violence occur over a lifetime. Staff also noted that the discussion was focused on family violence, and asked participants to look at incarceration rates to understand which persons are targeted in the criminal justice system.

State statutes, the courts, and public citizens and their belief systems have historically defined violence and how violent and criminal behavior should be dealt with. It was noted that (1) communities lack the resources for comprehensive intervention (e.g., more money available to incarcerate), (2) the public has an unrealistic fear of violence, and (3) we have to understand the trauma behind criminal and violent behavior. In response, participants noted that society should continue to hold people accountable for what they do. On the other hand, participants noted that youth can easily interact with disjointed criminal justice systems that fail to truly serve their needs, and that many youth continue to have mental health issues. Another participant stated that practitioners and law enforcement officials must work together (e.g., the police are the front line on domestic violence service calls).

A participant defined violence as any act that instills fear and any act that hurts an individual. The participant stated that local enforcement should (1) better define, understand, and address domestic violence (e.g., do more than look for wounds and understand that violence continues after the hitting stops) and (2) better understand how to work within communities (e.g., do community police/education and recognize violence customers).

Another participant defined violence in terms of physical, psychological, intimate partner, and emotional abuse. It also was suggested that violence is institutionalized when the systems do not respond to clients. This definition was developed in the context of reporting high numbers of incarcerated women in the community, where many women have also experienced educational failure. The participant described working with a program with faith-based support to provide transitional living assistance, batterer's treatment, legal services, advocacy and outreach (e.g., for boys and girls who disclose dating violence), legal assistance (e.g., divorce and protective custody), and education support. In this community, systems intervention and change are relevant; historically different systems have provided different services (e.g., domestic violence versus childcare services). Efforts to produce coordinated systems have not always worked due to a lack of leaders, but there continues to be a need for systems change, supported by the courts (e.g., sanction batterer's treatment), the community (e.g., media and court reports), and support services (e.g., partner check ins).

Another participant discussed violence in the context of crimes against children, such as child sexual abuse, and families who rely on the criminal justice system for assistance and guidance. It was noted that many systems working in the child abuse arena fail to adequately define violence against children. Moreover, with children, it is not clear if violence is understood or even feared. In terms of program development, there is a desire to combine professionalism with compassion, to coordinate services and responses, and to continue to understand the complexity of child abuse and responses (e.g., children who experience violence also have biological mothers who have experienced domestic violence).

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Discussion Continued: Approaches to Violence Reduction and Prevention

Dr. Rosenfeld and others noted that the participants had focused many of their comments on systems, systems change, and how systems do not work together. Thus, the discussion was not focused on individual perpetrators. Participants stated that the systems discussion helps them to understand how effectively a community deals with issues in the criminal justice arena and to place into context how a community responds to criminals (e.g., spend money to incarcerate versus educate). A few participants noted that some communities do not have structured systems; instead, practitioners have to do more work to advocate for their clients. Dr. Rosenfeld asked the group to be clearer about their thoughts regarding the idea that if a system works well, then there will be an impact on violence. NIJ staff also asked participants to stay focused on aspects of violence (e.g., physical harm/physical contact and the immediate threat of assault) and to keep in mind public acceptance and resources available within the arena of violence intervention and prevention.

A participant noted that violence can happen in the home and in institutions (e.g., police departments), and that violence can be active (e.g., violence done has left its mark) and passive (e.g., lingering effects of violence on persons perpetrated against).

A discussion about law enforcement followed. A participant described a community effort to better train traditional police officers and judicial officers on how to operate within their program goals and address a community's desire for protection. The suggestion was to fund programs and services that work. Another participant said that courts are personality driven and have a community bias. Thus, judges either will have or will lack a commitment to social issues such as domestic violence. In terms of a definition for domestic violence and how to deal with it, many judges do the best they can to not minimize women's experiences with such violence and to work on what is important.

In response to NIJ, a participant suggested that the reason people hurt others is their own victimization history; thus, there is a need to deal with the psychological development of persons, including children. In terms of systems, it was suggested that changes and repairs are valuable for various systems encountered such as a response system.

Dr. Zahn stated that homicide (e.g., 18-year-old youth are killing other youth) also is important to consider. A participant suggested that youth should understand the consequences of their behaviors and deterrence messages. Such strategies have helped decrease the number of youth homicides in some communities. Another participant noted (1) that homicide is the worst crime, but that it is not the most common one and (2) that victims of domestic violence have lingering problems (e.g., post-separation from relationship abuse). Use of a broader definition for violence as well as an understanding that violence and exposure to violence happens across one's life were suggested as the basis for a good strategy.

A participant stated that adult and youth violence continue in correctional facilities. Such facilities essentially manage violence (e.g., sex offender management, batterer's intervention, and behavioral change), allow for few opportunities for self-regulation and democracy (e.g., they are authoritarian settings), and lack the best models to work with youth offenders, including those serving long-term sentences.

A participant described working closely with youth under 17, primarily on sexual and physical abuse, but also on substance abuse, mental health, exploitation, transportation, childcare, and centralized intake. Several key issues were noted, including that (1) the law narrowly defines abuse and crime, (2) community partnerships remain important, (3) families do not access services they are eligible to receive, and (4) that courts have little in the way of resources and funds.

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Working Lunch and Presentation

Addressing Violence Problems in a Problem Solving and Theoretical Context, The SACSI/PSN Experience in St. Louis

Dr. Henry Brownstein, Chief, Drugs and Crime and International Research Division, NIJ, introduced Dr. Scott Decker, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Dr. Decker is Co-Principal Investigator for the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI)/Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, an NIJ-funded partnership with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies; prosecutors; and communities, who are working together to prevent and prosecute gun crime. Dr. Decker is completing a book entitled, Policing Gangs and Youth Violence. He is the author of Life in the Gang: Family, Friends, and Violence (with Barrik Van Winkle), Confronting Gangs: Crime and Community (with G. David Curry), Armed Robbers in Action (with Richard T. Wright), and Burglars on the Job: Streetlife and Residential Break-Ins (with Richard T. Wright).

Dr. Decker described the context for the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The city has a consistent ranking in the top five cities for homicide, aggravated assault, and robbery rates. Trend data show 71 homicides/100,000 residents in 1993, and 43 homicides/100,000 residents in 2001.

The city also has a policy context, which includes the following key initiatives:

  • 1991—Gun Buyback Program (88,000 guns recovered)
  • 1992—Assault Crisis Teams
  • 1996—Firearm Suppression Program
  • 1996—Safe Futures Program
  • 1998—Operation Ceasefire
  • 1999—Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative
  • 2001—New Mayor, Police Chief, U.S. attorney, and prosecutor want change
  • 2002—Project Safe Neighborhoods

The range of stakeholders includes the Assistant U.S. Attorney's Office (AUSA), the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, local prosecutors, research partner/university, Federal probation, Level I Trauma Center/hospital setting, juvenile court (e.g., Project Sentry), the State police, the jail supervisor, city neighborhood service providers, street outreach workers, and media relations partners. Dr. Decker emphasized the importance of these partners, noting that the research agenda itself is not enough to motivate change in the city.

Dr. Decker's research documents that firearms are the most prominent weapons used in the city's homicides, starting in the late 1980s to the present. The data also indicate that there are key neighborhoods and city locations (e.g., Northwest locations), which overlap in the total number of homicides, assaults (e.g., the city's District 5), firearm recovery sites, and number of police service calls reporting shots fired. Moreover, the data demonstrate the need to target both juveniles and adults. Many of these individuals report that the most important consideration in deciding to carry a gun is their concern that they will encounter an armed person on the streets.

According to Dr. Decker, the PSN research can be successful by addressing the following critical issues:

  • Violence in St. Louis has a very strong spatial concentration. Interventions, therefore, must also have a spatial concentration.
  • Both victims and offenders in violence in St. Louis have a history of involvement with the criminal justice system, and each other. Victims and offenders resemble each other in a number of important ways. Victimization and offending are common among high rate offenders.
  • The motive in most St. Louis violence appears to be more expressive (e.g., moralistic) than instrumental in character.
  • PSN addresses what it can change (e.g., offender behavior) not underlying social circumstances (e.g., urban underclass).

The PSN research involves the following initiatives and key elements:

  • Fifth District Initiative
    - Targeted Enforcement (e.g., criminal warrants, target lists, past criminals)
    - Coordination of Prosecution and Enforcement
    - Concentration of Special Units
    - Focus on Gang Crime
  • Most Violent Offenders/WOW Program
    - Vertical Prosecution Model
    - Gun Case review
    - Groups of Associates wanted/suspected in homicide
  • Trauma Intervention Program
    - Intervention at the emergency department (ED) in the city's hospital
    - Outreach to victims in the neighborhood
    - Surveillance system for violence

Trauma Intervention Program

The goal of this program is to prevent retaliatory violence and repeat victimization. Several strategies are used, including (1) system change (e.g., evidence, notification, knives), (2) intelligence (e.g., in and around the ED), (3) followup interventions in the ED and neighborhood, (4) data analysis (e.g., system convergence of police and ED data), and (5) models from other cities (e.g., outcomes, similarities, and practices).

In the ED/hospital setting, Dr. Decker described key intervention points where contact can be made with the shooting and stabbing victims for crime prevention. For example, once the victim is stable or when the victim is being discharged, intervention may occur (e.g., discuss weapon use or weapon recovery). In the past, no systematic approach was used for this type of intervention in the ED/hospital setting.

Most Violent Offender Program/WOW Program

This program targets groups of offenders whose criminal histories have been examined for their involvement in gun violence. A staff team of Federal and local law enforcement and prosecution officials nominates persons. Particular attention is paid to those persons who were suspected for but not charged with homicide with armed criminal action. The data show some initial success—8 in 11 persons arrested and some persons charged and held for 3 months. This initiative also integrates the Gun Club program, which strives to improve working justice systems. To this end, weekly meetings involve the State District Attorney; AUSA; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and local police who review all gun arrests and discuss the strength of a case and background of the arrestee to determine the most appropriate venue for prosecution. Major outcomes include increased Federal arrests, increased prosecutions and convictions, and the promotion of a police internship program.

Fifth District Initiative

The Fifth District is located in a 4.34 square mile area with 17,503 city residents. The District experienced 25 homicides in 2001 (142/100,000 residents). The program involves coordinated, targeted enforcement, and uses gun recovery tactics, including search warrants, arrests, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, consent searches, a gun buyback program, and gun turn-in campaigns. Dr. Decker noted that these tactics vary on several indicators, including the probability of gun retrieval, crime reduction, costs, and the effect on crime (See matrix on slide 23). The program's partnership approach involves (1) Federal prosecution (e.g., U.S. attorney, PSN, gun cases), (2) Federal law enforcement (e.g., ATF and Federal Bureau of Investigation), (3) local prosecution (e.g., BJA-funded gun prosecutors), (4) local law enforcement (e.g., district officers, gang, and mobile reserve), and (5) research contributions, which are viewed as relevant and important.

Initial PSN Findings

Dr. Decker highlighted several initial findings:

  • In 2001–2002, the city experienced a drop in homicides (23%); this was the largest for any U.S. city with a population of over 100,000.
  • In 2002–2003, the city experienced a drop in homicides (39%); there were 69 homicides in 2003, and this was the first time the number was under 100 since 1962; the city's 10-year average equaled 145 homicides per year.
  • The 2003 drop in homicides occurred in every (i.e., all nine) police districts.
  • The largest drop occurred in targeted neighborhoods (i.e., 28/44, or 64% of the total decrease).
  • Context: The national homicide trends are flat, and some cities show moderate increases.
  • "The intervention appears to coincide with the decline in homicide."

Problem Solving Approaches

In closing, Dr. Decker discussed the project's problem solving approaches:

  • Many interventions will not be solely law enforcement approaches.
  • Partnering is important: code enforcement, emergency and trauma based interventions, neighborhood and outreach groups.
  • Use of technology, because it plays a central role in St. Louis.
  • Going after gun sources can be more difficult than it sounds.
  • Combine different data sources, including qualitative work.
  • Learn from local successes (e.g., traffic and pedestrian stops account for 50% and calls for service 40% of illegal firearms seized by the police department).
  • Use team building and do not rush these efforts.
  • Use workgroup leaders; they are key to the process.
  • Generate buy-in.
  • Make the data matter; highlight key outcomes and what matters to the community.
  • Use intervention ideas, including the ones from unanticipated sources.
  • Integrate juvenile court gun referrals, emergency room visits, and police notifications from emergency rooms.
  • Overcome skepticism.
  • Generate greater impact through a coordinated effort.
  • Keep on target.
  • Measure major outputs and outcomes.

In response to questions, Dr. Decker pointed out that low socio-economic status tends to have a strong correlation with guns in the community. He also stated that guns are seized by local police and through the use of searches, and that the program has focused on gun retrieval because of the large number of weapons in this particular community.

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Discussion Continued: Approaches to Violence Reduction and Prevention

A participant stated that the definition of violent crime is no longer clear (e.g., domestic violence versus property crime). Further, the definition should expand to fully encompass the context of a crime, which is relevant to the understanding and prosecution of cases. In one community with a concentrated crime area, the definition of violence has to do with the crimes within relationships (e.g., street and personal relationships versus stranger against stranger crime).

The definition of violence should also expand to include (1) violence incidence associated with hate crimes and the lingering fear that results from them and (2) child sexual assault, which usually happens more than once. The participant has programs to deal directly with gun and drug crime and uses aggressive enforcement, including (1) motor vehicle stops, (2) heightened visibility in concentrated crime areas, (3) removal of offenders from the community using constitutional guidelines, and (4) building cases to charge and prosecute offenders who are then transferred to the U.S. Attorney's Office, when possible.

Dr. Rosenfeld remarked that two models have been discussed, a model of deterrence (e.g., Project Safe Neighborhoods), and one of incapacitation for individuals who do not respond to behavioral change (e.g., incarceration of persons so that their criminal activities can be transferred to correctional facilities).

One participant described violence as being broadly defined in terms of what men do to women; further, it is rooted in and continues to exist in patriarchy and notions of male supremacy as well as in constitutional, institutional (e.g., educational, religious), legal, cultural (e.g., sexist, racist, economically unjust), and community backdrops. Also, violence involves a full range of controlling strategies used by men over women, including the legal ones that men use to control their partners, and violence must take into account women's perspectives and definitions of violence (e.g., moving beyond counting the number of men arrested and the numbers of hits, recognizing that women live in fear and with limitations on their lives). In the context of women who are violent toward men, it was stated that there is a difference and that additional thinking is needed.

With this definition, the participant described how batterer programs strive to disassociate the idea that men who are abusing women have treatable mental health issues. Instead, program training curriculum is similar to the curriculum used for professional training for judges, laypersons, and other members of the community. The training involves a discussion of the history of domestic violence, how to end domestic violence, and the progress of the domestic violence movement in the United States.

It also was suggested (1) that the criminal justice system mandate batterer programs as one in a range of sanctions, giving the court a chance to see how seriously offenders comply with the court's order and (2) that the courts use the most serious sanctions or penalties at the earliest possible moment—based on the seriousness of the crime committed—recognizing that domestic violence is a serious crime. The notion of violence in early childhood was mentioned as an important part of this discussion. Dr. Zahn asked the group to also think about (1) the distinctive characteristics of male battering which are not the same as male dominance and (2) the variables that distinguish men who batter and those who do not hit women. The book, Sisters in Spirit, by Sally Roesch Wagner was recommended as a resource.

One participant described recent research that defined "success" as the men's completion of a 6-week batterer program and by a decreased number of hits to one's partner. There was concern that this type of research would cause harm. The alternative would be to study what happens to men who are mandated to participate in batterer programs but fail to do so. Also, a participant stated that more programs can rely on men as the front persons who discuss why male violence against women is unacceptable.

Dr. Rosenfeld asked, why is the most restrictive and punitive sanction recommended as the first step, and does it suggest something that is qualitatively different about the type of violence under consideration? A participant described past efforts towards less punitive sanctions, however, it was stated that this has only added to the problem of domestic violence.

A participant, who is working on children and abuse issues, stated that children exposed to violence have posttraumatic stress disorder, and experience changes in their blood chemistry, impacting brain development. The participant also discussed the need to prevent institutional violence against children who commit violence. In this context many adolescents are not competent to stand trial, some need mandatory counseling, and some should not talk to police when they are accused of felonies. Flexibility that allows courts to send the accused children back to juvenile court was considered beneficial, because it gives the courts an additional way to assist children. Moving beyond Federal mandates in the area of foster care, permanency and safety for children were identified as priorities. It also was suggested that parental rights should be reexamined to determine what is happening to children in the form of accidents and disciplinary practices.

A participant described her own personal experience with violence, noting the importance of family support and the complexity of exposure to different forms of violence. Participants were encouraged to try to understand this type of personal background, making relevant links to their current work. Practitioners should build upon the strengths within families and individuals; for example, treatment does not work without help from the family. The participant stated that (1) the high-risk problems of children must be addressed to create family stabilization and (2) violence occurs on a continuum. With respect to programs, the participant works with a victim service center, which is a clinical treatment program, for children who are victims of all forms of abuse and for children who witness violence. She suggested that this type of work be coordinated with various systems (e.g., schools and key professionals). Dr. Rosenfeld stated that this perspective is important, because it does not assume that exposure to violent conditions (e.g., seeing someone get shot) will always lead to negative outcomes, and it suggests that not all persons who witness violence will be violent themselves.

Another participant described her personal experience with violence, noting that the domestic violence system did not meet crucial needs. Data and theoretical understandings of the groups served (e.g., adolescent developmental research) remain crucial for practitioner decisions and the education of judges, probation officers, and systems players. The participant described the need for (1) holistic representation; (2) restorative justice (e.g., juveniles understand accountability); (3) systems change via community partnerships, including faith-based organizations and others; (4) data gathering efforts; (5) aggressive enforcement; (6) community response plans; and (7) rational approaches based on strong research regarding youth to avoid sweeping transfers of young people into adult systems.

A participant stated that the U.S. constitution is the grounding for practitioners' work. Thus, there is a need to understand roles (e.g., how prosecution relates to law enforcement; how service providers relate to law enforcement and the courts). There was a note of caution for participants to avoid inappropriate responses and recognize the rights and positions of such players, including the victims and perpetrators. Another participant noted that the court must hear both sides, and the practitioners should be realistic about court outcomes, recognizing the limits to what the courts can and cannot do.

A participant, who has 25 years of experience in the arena of domestic violence, defined violence as a systematic pattern of behavior used in intimate relationships whereby a person has power over another person. Violence is socially taught and learned in the home and family (e.g., by learning how to deal with conflict; how to deal with the violence that is observed). The participant described a particular program, which includes (1) a batterers treatment/intervention program, (2) an advocacy program within the criminal court system (e.g., laws to identify criminal behavior), (3) a therapy program for victims of domestic violence and children (ages 4–18), and (4) interventions for adolescent boys and girls. Moreover, the program has worked with Dr. Jeffery Ellison, University of Minnesota School of Social Work and the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse, to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions for this program, generating best practices. Newer projects have focused on men-as-parents programs and on how to assist men who lack parenting skills (e.g., to understand their violent behavior in the context of their family of origin). The participant described several measures of success for the program, which include (1) stopping the physical violence, (2) changing attitudes and beliefs on men and women's social roles (e.g., men's right to control women's behavior), (3) breaking the social isolation of family members, and (4) changing social attitudes of the community, including the faith-based community and social systems (e.g., response to domestic violence).

A participant asked about how to incorporate the growing body of knowledge about the impact of trauma on brain chemistry as well as information on brain functioning. The participant also asked about what leads to violent behavior and what strategies should be examined to effectively respond to violent behavior. These issues are relevant with respect to people who abuse children or are sexual predators. In response, it was stated that (1) in the domestic violence field, it is important to understand that not all batterers are the same and (2) not all men who observe violence are abusive to their partners. There should be research on why some people do not abuse even when they come from an abusive setting.

Dr. Rosenfeld asked about the involvement of the faith-based community. He wondered about its expertise and what perspectives it offers. In response, participants described the faith-based community as (1) the moral compass of our society and (2) influential for a large number of people. It also plays important roles in the Latino and African American communities (e.g., with respect to how people treat one another). A suggestion was made that practitioners not give up on the faith-based community, even if its members have made mistakes in the past, as have police officers and judges. One goal would be to educate religious leaders and to use their positions in the communities as an asset (e.g., to develop messages).

A participant described work in the community corrections field and with violent offenders. Although the participant agreed with NIJ's definition of violence, there is a need to deal with the psychology of violence. The participant described groupings of people, including those who (1) come into the system with little hope that they will change their behavior, (2) use violence as a means to an end (e.g., to obtain control or goods), and (3) are emotionally explosive and lack impulse control and want control and compliance. It was suggested that there are people who can change and want to change, versus those who cannot or do not want to change (e.g., those who see nothing wrong with their behavior). Among these persons, the participant identified recent efforts to positively (1) address substance abuse and educational challenges, (2) direct people to better peers or associates, (3) show alternatives on how to obtain goods (e.g., prestige without violence), (4) change attitudes (e.g., control is not a good thing), and (5) teach people that there are consequences to their behaviors.

When asked about how to create a violence prevention initiative, a participant suggested (1) dealing with substance abuse, (2) using appropriate sanctions which are clearly linked to the crime, (3) having an adequate budget (e.g., people are offered the opportunity to get treatment), and (4) using motivational enhancement and interviewing to fully understand people's beliefs, worlds, and settings.

When asked to create a supervision and corrections initiative, a participant suggested that (1) courts should avoid incarcerating nonviolent offenders, (2) resources should go to community-based systems, (3) more effort should go toward transition from the corrections system back into the community, and (4) corrections officials should provide violence education programs so that prisoners with violence in their background would be exposed to violence impact and to perspectives on how their behavior is part of a social pattern.

A participant said that there is a continuing need for the warehousing of criminals, especially given that the greatest predictor of violence is criminal thinking and untreated substance abuse. Another participant described three types of criminals: those who need to be incarcerated, those who have made a mistake and will self-correct, and those that never take responsibility for their actions. People must work with these groups and make the best recommendations on their futures.

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What NIJ Heard

Dr. Hartmann asked NIJ staff to report on what was heard at this point. NIJ staff thanked the participants for their comments and key members of the NIJ staff for organizing the meeting.

Definitions of Violence

The group focused on the responses to violence versus the underlying causes of violence. The focus also went to particular types of violence, including family and domestic violence. The group stated that violence was learned and that the learning occurred within intimate settings such as homes and relationships. There also was a focus on exposure in terms of being a victim of or witness to violence. There was not much focus on perpetration or what causes a perpetrator to commit violence.

Systems Change

The group focused on system change but did not specify which systems should change. A working hypothesis was that changing a system would impact violence. The group discussed the justice system and human and social service systems, but there was no discussion about how changing a system would make a difference. Instead, much of the discussion focused on how systems come together or how they can come together. The discussion focused on what system change is and what difference it makes.

Macro-level Factors

Patriarchy was discussed in the context of domestic violence and partner violence. The discussions also focused on how macro-level factors are related to other forms of violence, and why they play an important role in both domestic violence and other forms of violence. Dr. Zahn asked, if patriarchy is a driving force behind domestic violence, then what about all those other men who do not engage in domestic violence? NIJ staff asked the group to consider who does most of the violence, what the violence is about, and what is not being talked about.

NIJ staff also noted that the group focused primarily on family violence with little discussion of homicide, robbery, and violent crime. NIJ staff wondered if there was a perception that public violence (e.g., violence in the streets) is more under control, and that this was the reason why the group returned to family or home violence (e.g., violence in households and in personal relationships).

NIJ staff heard the group (1) describe violence as a discrete event, (2) focus on how systems are organized and/or not organized to address violence, (3) describe the family as a training ground for violence, (4) discuss helping girls who are offenders to recapture wisdom inside themselves, (5) share personal experiences with violence, (6) state that infrastructure is critical, (7) advocate early prevention and interventions with the instant offense program, and (8) describe the country's historical context with respect to gender relations, noting that there are different correlates of violence and potentials for social change.

Participants were asked to comment on any missing topics of discussion. The participants asked NIJ staff to keep in mind the following: (1) the connection between violence and brain development, including the impact of trauma and fetal development; (2) Internet violence; (3) the idea that all the forms of violence are interconnected with children, families, youth, communities, and schools; and (4) the idea that family violence is a serious crime. NIJ staff agreed that technology is ignored in violence research, in part due to the dominance of the social sciences in the study of violence. The staff also asked participants to understand that different solutions exist because of the differences among individuals. In response, a participant asked if it was truly possible to "make everybody perfect."

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Dr. Rosenfeld shared the following thoughts:

  • Research shows that violence has subsided, although it still remains serious. At the same time, societal tolerance for violence has diminished. Dr. Rosenfeld suggested that the work of the violence prevention community, including domestic violence professionals, progressive judges, progressive corrections administrators, police officers, and others, has been the driving force for this change. The domestic violence movement has been successful in setting the discourse for violence (e.g., passive versus aggressive violence, post-abuse relationships, etc.), and has put pressure on individuals and institutions to behave differently. Dr. Rosenfeld believes that this will not change because of the efforts to pacify social relations and make them less injurious.
  • Dr. Rosenfeld asked the participants to consider whether better coordination actually leads to reductions in violence. He stated that there is no good evidence for this outcome. Furthermore, although the PSN initiative in St. Louis shows that people move more quickly to the Federal courts, it is not clear that this has led to a reduction in violence.
  • There is no way to get away from adults. Dr. Rosenfeld stated that practitioners would have to deal with adults, including older adolescents and young adults, who are responsible for their children (e.g., parents of infants and teenagers). This issue is especially critical when practitioners want early intervention, including fetus intervention and brain developmental studies.
  • Dr. Rosenfeld asked, how does the prevention community respond to the fact that aggressive enforcement, when done properly, seems to work? He stated that such initiatives reduce serious street violence, including firearm-related violence, yet they have almost nothing to do with the kinds of factors that early prevention advocates believe are fundamental for reducing violence.

Dr. Zahn asked participants to consider the following questions:

  • Has violence diminished or has it been replaced (e.g., virtual reality games and globalization of the violence)?
  • What are some of the similarities and differences across the life course (e.g., among young children, adolescents, and older persons) in terms of intervention and capabilities for intervention, and how does the life course impact violence?
  • Although we know that violence can lead to violence, does it do so only in specific contexts and only for specific people? How is resiliency linked to this particular discussion?
  • With respect to root causes, it is unrealistic to start with biology as a root cause?
  • Does safety come first, or can quality come first, keeping in mind that there are high-quality education systems that currently function in bad school districts?
  • With respect to system changes, how does coordination work, and does it work? Who are the leaders, what are their characteristics, and where are the leaders leading us? Who should be included among the leaders? What components should be coordinated? How do we know that coordination is a good thing and that it is really effective, keeping in mind that working in teams can also lead to a dumbing down situation?

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Dr. Hartmann asked participants to think about the previous statements. He also asked the group to start thinking about research and information that is needed in their fields. NIJ staff thanked the participants for their honesty, and reminded them that NIJ wants to be part of the work they do.

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Addressing Violence in Criminal Justice Practice, Day 2, January 22, 2004


Dr. Hartmann acknowledged the NIJ staff for their long time service and research efforts, and highlighted the work of Lois Mock, NIJ.

Dr. Hartmann asked participants to think about information and specific questions that would be helpful, especially in order to bring value to their work arenas. Participants asked themselves: What would really help me to do my work, and what would provide key facts, which can be used for policy and programmatic decisions? NIJ staff stated that this type of feedback and information would assist in ensuring that practitioners get the type of information and research they need, especially for use in dealing with their own local level contexts and needs.

One participant asked for a brief overview of the facts and data that exist, for example, on children exposed to violence. Another participant stated that there are also local level data needs, which the national data may not be able to address. NIJ staff stated that they would make an effort to get this type of information out to the group and public.

Dr. Rosenfeld recognized the desire for local data, noting the connection to local politics; but he asked that the national level data and changes be viewed as relevant, especially when trends are documented over time. Dr. Rosenfeld mentioned the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Web site. BJS was described as a sister agency of NIJ, and the statistical agency of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Web site has a comprehensive collection of statistics about U.S. crime, victims, criminals, courts, police, jails, prisons, women in crime, and intimate partner violence. The other recommended database was WISQARSTM (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). WISQARS is an interactive database system that provides customized reports of injury-related data including (1) fatal injury reports (e.g., tables of injury deaths and death rates by particular causes of injury mortality) and (2) leading causes of death reports (e.g., charts of deaths by common causes of death).

A participant described working with a local advisory committee that was interested in local capacity-building efforts. The goal would be for local communities to be active participants in various activities and in understanding what works and why (e.g., how and why is a police chief successful, and what are the variables that contribute to this outcome). The participant asked NIJ to consider developing a capacity building template, which would empower and assist communities in their work; this would be different from developing research reports. Also, the participant asked for advice and documentation on how to do the research. Dr. Hartmann stated that the PSN effort might overlap with this discussion and request.

NIJ staff stated a desire and willingness to work on capacity building efforts as well as to inform the public and consumers about NIJ resources and knowledge. NIJ staff continue to address and negotiate ideas and strategies on how to get information out to the public, including practitioners. A participant recommended that NIJ develop brief documents outlining key information and facts on specific topics to assist with information dissemination.

Several participants stated that even when given the facts, many local constituents disregard key facts. A participant described conducting local-level research to help his community accept key facts as well as have a basic understanding of these facts. Another restated the need to know what research is available and asked NIJ to keep in mind that local research is always needed.

Dr. Rosenfeld stated that many communities have locally-based research centers focusing on violence and various aspects of violence, establishing the capacity for joint efforts. He further noted that such centers are driven by local commands and/or requests for research. In response, a participant described the difficulties with such joint efforts, citing turf issues and the difficulty of working within these settings.

A participant requested information and research about youth transitions into drug court for participation in treatment versus incarceration. NIJ staff stated that they would provide this type of information. Another participant discussed the need for NIJ to provide research and information in concise formats, noting that information located in sidebars or text boxes is useful in recalling major research findings and in policy and program development. Participants noted that paper copies of research findings remain relevant and time efficient and that effective indexing is crucial in ensuring readability and accessibility of electronic resources. The Web site by SafetyLit (at, which provides information from many disciplines about the occurrence and prevention of injuries, was recommended as a source. SafetyLit staff and volunteers regularly examine more than 300 journals and reports from government agencies and several organizations.

Dr. Hartmann summarized the discussion as follows: (1) participants want to understand what information already exists, (2) participants want to know how the Federal government and its agencies (e.g., NIJ and BJS) get their information out to the public, and (3) with respect to NIJ's mission, participants were asked to consider what research and information would be helpful in their fields.

Dr. Hartmann asked the group to return to the task of developing research questions for NIJ to use in the future. He summarized key topics and preliminary questions discussed on Day One, January 21, 2004 as follows:

  • System change—What exactly does the topic entail; what difference does it make to have system change?
  • Victim perpetrators—Do we know enough on this topic at this time?
  • Macro-level systems—How are macro systems related to violence; how is it that we all experience macro systems, but do not act out with violent behaviors?
  • National violence data—What do the data show; what conclusions can be drawn about violence in general?
  • Notions of violence—Do we tolerate violence less today?
  • Family—How are families training grounds for violence?
  • Technology and biology—How do both fit into the discussions about violence; are some persons more likely to have a biological makeup linked to violence?
  • Trends—How is violence decreasing in the U.S.; how is this linked to what is known and reported?

It was mentioned that not all programs are able to develop comprehensive interventions (e.g., PSN); instead, some communities use their resources to focus on instant intervention even when there is a desire to provide comprehensive program development focusing on violence intervention and prevention.

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Dr. Hartmann asked the participants to work in three small groups. NIJ staff participated in the group discussions. Each group was asked to select one person who would report the group's comments back to the larger group. The participants were directed to answer the question, what do you really want to know in guiding NIJ's future research directions? The participants were asked to focus on several key issues (e.g., two to three per group).

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After meeting in the small groups, each group was asked to report back, starting with Group A, then Groups B and C. The group spokespersons were asked to use only a few minutes in their presentations.

Report From Small Group: What Group A Wants Answered

The group developed a series of questions regarding reentry of ex-offenders and services: What do we need to do about reentry? What kind of innovative policies and practices should be developed, including programs that build human capital (e.g., a program that expunges the records of adults that have felony convictions in order to enable then to secure employment; a program that studies employment placements)? What policies and programs build human capital in ex-offenders, and which ones promote successful reentry of juveniles and adults into their communities? What policies and programs assist ex-offenders not to recidivate? What should be done first or are all services essential? For this work, Group A also strongly advocated the use of experimental designs/research methods and was interested in studying areas such as employment, family support services, family relations, and substance abuse treatment.

To further clarify the research agenda, participants described an interest in learning more about the differences between (1) people released from prisons with structured reentry programs and (2) people released with no structured reentry programs. The goals would be to examine the successful reintegration of these persons and understand what is happening. A participant expressed a desire to examine the various models for reentry support, including models that encourage immediate employment placement as compared to models that address substance abuse issues. When asked about experimental design, Group A agreed that the correctional programming provided to the ex-offender should also be examined or considered in this type of research work.

Group A also was interested in studies about early intervention, especially for children exposed to all forms of violence, and in knowing about other programs and their impact on preventing future violence. The group wants research on what works in terms of intervening with children to reduce the risk factors associated with exposure to violence and associated with future violent behavior. In this area, Group A asked: What works to enhance and build up the protective factors? What can we learn about resilience from children in these families who do not seem to suffer in the same ways (e.g., sibling differences)? The group also identified the challenge of getting families to access services, and asked what we can learn about motivation to access services? Finally, Group A asked what role do law enforcement and criminal justice systems play in helping families access services, and what role do they play in identifying children and families in need of support and services?

Dr. Rosenfeld asked the group to consider the current models of organization of reentry. He identified several models: (1) one model operates with the sentencing judge running the reentry process, (2) another model operates with conventional community agents (e.g., parole agency or officer as the reentry monitor), and (3) another model operates with one or more community organizations serving as the reentry monitors. Dr. Rosenfeld stated that there is a nuance to the reentry topic, and one could also ask: What is the social organization of reentry that is most effective and most cost efficient?

NIJ staff reported that $11 million has been awarded to RTI International and the Urban Institute to study reentry. Group A appeared to understand this background, but their focus was on using an experimental design. Group A understood research being done by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, but noted that the integration of experimental designs could (1) assist with funding issues and (2) ensure more time to conduct research (e.g., tracking research participants for more than 18 months to 2 years).

At this point, a participant asked NIJ staff to explain how these questions would be useful to NIJ, and what processes were available to help NIJ secure additional funds to conduct research. NIJ staff were participants in the small groups, taking notes and listening. Their notes will be summarized into a cohesive document, and this information will be part of NIJ's strategic planning. Staff will examine what already exists and provide this information to participants. The information also will be used for future solicitations. In the past, the information from such meetings has directed NIJ's solicitation processes, projects, and funded research; but this process will take time. NIJ staff also stated that budget items must be justified. Thus, the participants' research questions and feedback will be used in this context. With respect to funding, NIJ staff noted that they can make recommendations, and that their agency has to compete for resources and go through the appropriate approval process. Several participants were interested in assisting NIJ staff in securing funding. Dr. Hartmann stated that the participants' feedback will be used by NIJ to formulate information.

Report From Small Group: What Group B Wants Answered

Two major recommendations were presented. The group recommended research identifying the effectiveness of sanctions and interventions, including cost-effectiveness. The research would take into account gender, culture, offence type, age, and issues related to trauma (e.g., women/girls and trauma) in the individual's past. Also, the research would study what works for girls versus boys and what works for domestic violence offenders versus other offenders. Finally, the research would pay close attention to the specific needs of different categories of people and how to target resources (e.g., judicial, prevention, and intervention resources).

Group B suggested that the intervention resources, including new and innovative programs, should be examined (e.g., trauma programs for violence victims and the outcomes of such programs). The group believes that this is a good time to determine what is known, especially considering State level funding issues and efforts to be cost effective. The group understood that some interventions would be more expensive, but also more effective; they suggested that the research deal with the sub-question, "Can we afford to do this?"

NIJ staff stated that much more work has been completed on juvenile justice than on the adult area. In the adult area, research has been focused on drugs, drug wars, mental health, and domestic violence. The staff stated that the group's perspective was important, because practitioners and others lack this type of matrix overview. The staff noted that studies in the juvenile justice area are often driven by the fact that youth are transferred to the adult system (e.g., youth do less well in the adult system). NIJ staff also noted that practitioners in the violence area might have to work with fewer resources.

Group B also developed a series of questions focused on systems analysis, including the following: (1) Is a coordinated response more effective? (2) How does one measure this type of effectiveness (e.g., would measures include the amount of response time that people have to put into this process)? (3) Who should participate in efforts for system improvement and why does their participation matter? (4) Is system coordination equally effective across different kinds of offenses (e.g., domestic violence, child homicide, gun violence, or child abuse)? and (5) Why is coordination important?

Group B also considered the role of key players and leaders. The group stated that not much is known about leaders and asked, what are the characteristics of such leaders, and what characteristics are needed to move forward on systems change. Also, with respect to readiness for change, the group would like to see studies on what makes a community, an organization, and a leader receptive to change, because these measures of change may pinpoint communities, leaders, and system elements that will be most effective in bringing about change.

NIJ staff responded to the readiness-to-change question by stating that NIJ has funded some studies in specific communities (i.e., not generalizable) to examine these types of issues, including factors involved in the readiness to change. Such research addresses (1) how to move a community and (2) where the communities are in terms of their readiness to address a particular problem. The results showed that communities were on a continuum, and if the community identified violence against women as a serious social problem, then they had more resources and a better response to this social issue/problem. Also important to this process was community mobilizing and getting the word out about the social issue. NIJ staff noted that there is a need for more resources and work in this arena.

Group B restated their working hypothesis—if a problem is viewed as a critical problem (e.g., if child homicide becomes a critical problem), then there is more receptiveness to change. Moreover, the group felt like this would be an easily tested hypothesis. A participant asked for a clearer definition for the term coordination. Group B stated that understanding coordination was a goal of the research program. Another participant stated that coordination is practiced effectively in some areas and ineffectively in others. The goal would be to learn about (1) where coordination is effective and (2) what the essential elements are that make it effective.

Dr. Rosenfeld mentioned several critical questions: For any given problem, which players are most important, and should one move ahead even when one does not have consensus or guaranteed participation on the part of the potential players? The group discussed the assumption that coordination is better than no coordination and recognized the importance of addressing these types of questions.

A participant stated that the term coordination is often overused and no longer has any functional meaning. Participants were cautioned to avoid using coordination as a generic term that would provide no essential meaning or value. Thus, it was suggested that the research be definite about whose activities are being coordinated and what form the coordination takes. Noting the intensity of coordination and understanding the relationships of the entities whose actions are coordinated also are important (e.g., law enforcement and an advocate). Another participant suggested that we view systems as mechanisms for planning and prevention, which may be effective for capacity building and prevention efforts.

Report From Small Group: What Group C Wants Answered

Group C would like a social and system network analysis and suggested that violence has the element of clustering (e.g., among individuals, among families, within the criminal justice system, and among health and human services systems). The group suggested working with one to three neighborhoods (e.g., with a size of 20,000 persons), and then identifying individuals and families, including extended families and people from different generations, who could provide new ideas, tools, or pathways for better intervention. Dr. Hartmann commented on the methodology and noted the small sample size. He stated that even if the sample were small, this type of study would provide important information.

Group C also recommended a study of different types of interventions, asking (1) are different interventions needed to address different forms of violence and (2) what would these include?

Finally, Group C recommended the following questions: (1) what happens to men found guilty of domestic violence offenses who are non-compliant and fail to follow through on their court-ordered sanctions and (2) does anything happen to them when they do not comply with the sanctions? This research would exclude men sent to prison upon conviction. Group C further added that the outcome being studied also includes the community response (e.g., is the community taking its own orders seriously, and what is done when the participant does not follow through with the sanctions). The group believes that this has not been studied in the past. A participant suggested that we also clearly define the systems for this research and include both the criminal justice and other health and human services systems (e.g., schools). Also, it was suggested that researchers look at the behaviors in the context of a broad life span (e.g., looking at early manifestations of aggression and violent behavior, how systems responded, and what evolved in these circumstances). It was suggested that we continue to learn more about those streams within the lifespan.

Dr. Hartman asked NIJ staff to start thinking about their responses to these recommendations in an effort to make sure that the NIJ staff correctly heard the statements.

NIJ staff asked about the scope of research regarding offenders who do not follow through with their sanctions. Group C had not discussed this issue; however, a participant thought that the research could be national in scope and look at the programs and court systems. Another participant noted concern that many programs are currently developed as moneymaking operations. Another issue was the need to know whether these programs work because the judges and the courts rely on them, hoping that positive outcomes emerge via sanctioned participation in such programs.

Group C asked participants to stay focused on what happens to persons who do not follow through with sanctions, and to what extent the community understands that domestic violence is a crime that will be punished. NIJ staff noted that the group's research is about a system of accountability focused on making sure that the offender gets sanctioned. NIJ staff also stated that the question was concise. In closing, a participant linked this discussion to the dysfunctional state of the probation system, noting that non-compliance is part of the probation system at this time; this also may be true for domestic violence offenders.

Dr. Hartmann asked the NIJ staff to summarize the statements made by the three groups, and to clearly state what NIJ heard from the groups.

What NIJ Staff Heard From Group A

Group A considered two continuums. On the first end, the question is what do we do about reentry for juveniles and adults? How do we build our human capital? For this research, the group advocates the use of an experimental design in a study that would examine policies, practices, and protocols as well as the different types of models for reentry. The group also asked where the social reorganization of reentry should be located (e.g., with judges, community supervision and services, or parole systems).

On the other end, Group A focused on early intervention with children exposed to all forms of violence. The question is, what works to enhance protective factors (e.g., resiliency, motivation)? The group wanted to study the criminal justice system's role in assisting individuals and families in accessing services and resources, and asked, what role does the criminal justice system play in the process to help families access services and resources?

What NIJ Staff Heard From Group B

Group B asked, what works for different types of offenders, and discussed the need to look at the effectiveness of interventions (e.g., from deterrence to incarceration) and sanctions. The group also is interested in a study that examines interventions that are age-, gender-, culture-, and offense-specific. The group also advocated studying the impact of trauma on victims and cost-effectiveness.

The group asked a series of questions about system response, including the following: Is a coordinated response more effective? What do we mean by coordinated response and coordination? How do we measure and operationalize these concepts? How is readiness to change linked to these issues? What is essential with respect to coordination? What elements must be in place in order for a coordination process to be effective? How is leadership relevant? What is not needed in terms of leadership (e.g., if a collaboration includes twelve partners which ones are not essential)?

What NIJ Staff Heard From Group C

Group C recommends a study regarding social and system network analysis on violence and violence prevention. The second recommendation focuses on the system's interventions for different types of violent offenders. Third, the group wants to study what happens to batterers who do not follow through with sanctions, and what the system does about them.

Regarding the memo drafted by Dr. Hartmann, which was based on the earlier discussions of data and information needs, the participants decided to return the memo to Dr. Hartmann with their signatures. Everyone understood that the signed copies would be delivered to NIJ directors and senior staff and be used to understand the context of the recommendations presented by the three groups.

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Dr. Hartmann asked participants to share their final substantive comments.

NIJ staff discussed the Institute's ability to respond to the recommendations. They regarded the research focusing on reentry and perhaps early intervention from Group A as achievable. Also, the research focusing on accountability for batterers who do not follow through with sanctions (from Group C) also seemed achievable. On the other topics, NIJ staff felt a greater need for further discussion on how these issues would be presented and developed in the future.

NIJ staff also mentioned work currently being done in the areas of reentry and early childhood intervention, but noted that the group's recommendations could be used as the basis for improvements. In terms of coordination and cooperation, NIJ staff noted the work being done with PSN, which includes process evaluation and examination of partnerships. In this research, NIJ will learn (1) what is important about partnerships, (2) what partners are valued at what stages, (3) how to include the best partners and motivate them, and (4) how to sustain motivation.

Participants were asked to comment on what research was missing. Dr. Zahn noted that there was much discussion about interpersonal violence, but there also was a need to discuss collective violence, keeping in mind September 11, 2001. Further, it was added that future violence research (1) needs to include some discussion of those motivated to do violence for social or political change and (2) needs to consider an internationalization platform as opposed to a single focus on the United States. In response, NIJ staff mentioned research on domestic and international terrorism, including work on how to respond to these forms of violence.

One participant discussed the need for and availability of local data and asked if there was a role for NIJ. For example, could NIJ assist practitioners with respect to methods for collecting local data, including data that would assist in the research mentioned by the groups? Another participant asked if there was any interest among participants in serving as advocates to ensure appropriate resources are available to accomplish the research agenda developed by the groups. Participants will contact each other in the future, as needed.

One participant stated that there was no clear discussion in the group about ethnic, cultural, and religious groups and differences. The participant (1) wanted to make sure this was not missing from discussions and research and (2) asked the group to avoid dropping diversity questions from studies.

Dr. Hartmann provided additional closing remarks. He mentioned that the meeting included NIJ staff, practitioners, and academics, and that the group had created a strong base for research. In the process, NIJ staff really listened to the academics and the practitioners, who were essential to the conversation. He thanked the group for its work and for the information it produced during the meeting. The participants also thanked Dr. Hartmann for his work during the meeting.

Dr. Rosenfeld stated that the group was exceptional and thoughtful. NIJ staff were encouraged to inform other staff that the group broadly represented the concerns in the various communities and was thoughtful about its work. One concern raised was that NIJ senior staff would have the impression that the participants do not represent other practitioners. However, it was strongly stated that the group raised issues that are of general concern.

Several participants asked about the selection process for participants. It was explained that NIJ staff had been informed about the goals of the meeting, and that staff made recommendations for potential participants. A working list was developed with participants who were viewed as experts in their fields and who would be willing to actively participate. A matrix also was used to strive for a mixture of participants and participants also were also identified as persons who would think outside the box, negotiating their ideas and thinking more broadly. As needed, phone calls were made to professionals in the field, asking for recommendations. Several meeting participants noted that the group seemed representative of people in the field, especially concerning ideas and attitudes.

Participants thanked NIJ and its staff for putting the meeting together. Dr. Hartmann also was thanked for his participation.

Date Created: December 17, 2007