Court Interventions May Not Be Effective in Preventing Future Intimate Partner (Domestic) Violence

A study that examined the long-term effectiveness of court interventions for a cohort of men arrested for domestic violence reported that 75 percent of the men reoffended for substance abuse or violence or both, often before the courts had disposed of an earlier crime. Analyses showed that:

  • The courts were consistent in sentencing.
  • To properly evaluate a criminal justice response to domestic violence, abusers' general criminal behavior should be taken into account.
  • Men in the study were antisocial, persistently criminal, and engaged in domestic violence as part of their general criminal activities.
  • Deterrence was unlikely to work for the offenders in this study.[1]

Another study that examined a specialized domestic violence probation program in Rhode Island found that mandatory attendance at batterer programs and no-contact orders routinely issued at sentencing did not protect the women from further abuse. [2]

This same study found that more than one-third of probationers were arrested for a new domestic violence offense within the first 2 months, and almost 60 percent were arrested within the first 6 months. Probationers who had the highest re-abuse rates were those who had committed prior crimes (not just domestic violence) and younger abusers (teenagers and those in their 20s).[3]


[note 1] Wilson, D., and A. Klein. "Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Batterers Arraigned in a Massachusetts District Court 1995 to 2004". Final report to the National Institute of Justice, May 2006, NCJ 215346.

[note 2] The Domestic Violence Unit of the Rhode Island Office of Corrections replicated a Quincy, Massachusetts model program, described in Victim Satisfaction With Criminal Justice Case Processing in a Model Court Setting, by G.T. Hotaling and E.S. Buzawa, Final report to the National Institute of Justice, 2003, NCJ 195668.

[note 3] Klein, Andrew. "Evaluation of Rhode Island Probation Specialized Domestic Violence Supervision Unit." Final report to the National Institute of Justice. Summary in NIJ's Compendium of Research on Violence Against Women.

Date Created: May 19, 2009