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La Plata County, Colorado, Arrest Policies Project: A Process Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2000
41 pages
This report presents the methodology, findings, and recommendations of a process evaluation of the Arrest Program in La Plata County, CO, which is a Federal grant program that encourages jurisdictions to implement mandatory or proarrest policies as an effective domestic violence intervention that is part of a coordinated community response.
The Violence Prevention Coalition of Southwest Colorado, locally referred to as the Violence Prevention Coalition (VPC), began in 1987 when a group of community leaders met to discuss the problem of domestic violence in the Sixth District. The VPC is a comprehensive approach to domestic violence, with an emphasis on prosecution. It is one of two partnering community organizations in the Arrest Program. The second is Alternative Horizons, which is the local domestic violence victim advocacy organization. As part of the Arrest project, Alternative Horizons added legal representation as a service to domestic violence victims. Arrest grant funds are used to supplement the contract of an attorney who coordinates a pro bono program to provide legal representation for victims in protection-order hearings. The evaluation found that the VPC's vertical prosecution, combined with the fast track program, produced an increase in domestic-violence convictions. The inclusion of a probation component has resulted in consistent evaluations and an increase in the supervision of domestic-violence probationers. Legal advocacy has provided valuable civil legal assistance to many battered women in the community. Overall, the project has had a significant impact in the areas of prosecution, probation, and advocacy for domestic-violence cases. A major element of the project is fast track prosecution. Although this feature has increased convictions and apparently the number of guilty pleas, it has also caused some concern among domestic-violence personnel. In particular, the prosecution of dual arrests (arrest of both parties involved in domestic violence) and female offenders who may engage in self-defense has become a controversial issue. The recommendations of the evaluation are to reconsider fast track; eliminate dual arrests from fast-track prosecution; provide fast-track defendants with written assurances; strengthen primary-aggressor-analysis training; attempt to bring the La Plata County Sheriff's Department into the project; specify the role of the District Attorney's Victim Advocate and outline varying roles of community and system advocates; increase communication and collaboration across agencies and organizations; and initiate intensive supervision of probationers.

Date Published: April 1, 2000