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Evaluation of the Rhode Island Probation Specialized Domestic Violence Supervision Unit

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2005
182 pages
This evaluation of the effectiveness of a specialized domestic violence probation supervision unit (DVU) in Rhode Island compared the DVU's impact in the half of the State where it was used with the impact of traditional probation strategies used with domestic-violence offenders in the other half of the State.
The evaluation found that DVU probation supervision of the majority of domestic-violence offenders resulted in significantly lower rates of reoffending and arrest-free periods twice as long as those for domestic-violence offenders under traditional probation supervision. The DVU also had a positive impact on victim satisfaction. DVU probation officers tended to hold offenders more accountable, as evidenced by 44 percent of the DVU caseload being charged with a technical violation, compared to 25 percent of those under traditional supervision. These findings provide important preliminary guidance for the community supervision of domestic-violence offenders that should be implemented and evaluated in other locations. The DVU was distinguished from traditional probation in that DVU cases were seen more often by probation officers, DVU victims were more likely to be contacted by their abusers' probation officers, and DVU probation officers were more likely to return probationers to court for technical violations. A sample of 552 male misdemeanor domestic-violence offenders on probation (370 DVU and 182 traditional) was monitored from January 1, 2003, through January 1, 2004, in order to measure recidivism as indicated by a new arrest, a victim report, or a police report. Offender characteristics and behavior were assessed in order to identify differences between the supervision strategies. The analysis focused on a descriptive analysis of offender characteristics, analysis of survival times, and regression analysis to determine recidivism and reabuse probabilities according to risk. A sample of victims was interviewed about how probation officers affected victims' experience related to probation supervision. 28 exhibits and 155 notes

Date Published: March 1, 2005