This report should be required reading for anyone interested in or developing a domestic violence court. Eleven chapters follow an executive summary: introduction; review of relevant research; research design; domestic violence court goals; history, structure, and staffing; case processing laws and policies; victim safety and services; offender assessments and program mandates; supervision and court responses to noncompliance; additional insights from qualitative analysis; and conclusion and implications. Some major findings include: increasing victim safety is rated “extremely important” by the majority of the domestic violence courts; the majority of courts had dedicated victim advocates; the majority of courts did not assess offenders; and 62% of the courts offered probation supervision to offenders. A "National Compendium of Domestic Violence Courts" is also included.
The authors “sought to document knowledge, attitudes, and practices among a national sample of U.S. criminal justice leaders. In particular, we sought to understand the prevalence of innovation; the use of data and evidence to inform practice; the responses to disappointing results; and the barriers to widespread adoption of innovative practices” (p. 1). Six chapters follow an executive summary: introduction and methodology; respondent characteristics; prevalence of innovation; data-driven decision-making; barriers to innovation; and sources of new ideas. Fourty-six percent of respondents always use evidence-based decisionmaking, with 85% getting new information about criminal justice programs and/or reform initiatives from their colleagues.
The effectiveness of domestic violence courts to positively impact court processing, case resolutions, and recidivism is examined. If you are planning to implement a domestic violence court in your jurisdiction or are looking for ways to improve it, then you should read this report. This study found that court policies “varied widely across several domains, including specific accountability measures (i.e., use of various sanctions for noncompliance), victim safety and services (e.g., use of protection orders, linkages to victim advocates, and courthouse safety measures), use of offender assessment tools, orders to batterer programs, and orders to other types of programs (e.g., substance abuse or mental health treatment)” (p. v). Findings also show that among convicted offenders domestic violence courts significantly reduce the total number of re-arrests for any charge and for additional domestic violence charges.