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

By: Andrew R. Klein. Published by: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice. Published in June 2009

Link to report

Link to PDF

This report gives practitioners the research on perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, the impact of current responses to such violence, and the implications of that research for day-to-day, real-world responses to domestic violence by law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges.

Given the data on domestic violence, there are a number of implications for law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges.

These include:

  • Inquiring about prior unreported domestic violence to evaluate whether the domestic violence is an isolated event or a part of a pattern of behavior.
  • Committing more resources and attention to ensure that domestic violence cases are handled efficiently and effectively because leaving the abuser may not stop the abuse for the victim. The length of prior record is predictive of re-abuse as well as general recidivism.
  • Using arrest as the first step in stopping abuse and immediately pursuing measures to safeguard victims pending trial and after. Moreover, victims should be warned that batterers’ attendance at these programs does not ensure the stop of abuse during or after the program.
  • Considering seemingly unrelated nonviolent offenses like drunk driving or drug possession as risk markers of continued abuse.
  • Using victim input as an important part of any risk calculation.
  • Creating coordinated community responses and making clear policy pronouncements from the top administration may be more effective. Not allowing victim opposition to automatically stop prosecutors and judges to proceed with the case.
  • Better addressing victim fears of re-abuse and of testifying in court and increasing victim cooperation and participation in prosecution.
  • In addition, research indicates that victims generally report satisfaction with domestic violence prosecutions conducted by specialized prosecution teams. These specialized teams have significantly increased prosecution and conviction rates and appear to be associated with more robust dispositions that also appear to be better monitored and enforced. Therefore, specialized domestic violence prosecution units should be more adequately funded.


Categories: Domestic Violence, Family, Family, National, Policymakers and Funders, Victims of Crime

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