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The (Dubious?) Benefits of Second Chances in Batterer Intervention Programs

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 28 Issue: 8 Dated: May 2013 Pages: 1657-1671
Katreena Scott, Ph.D.; Colin King, Ph.D.; Holly McGinn, M.A.; Narges Hosseini, M.A.
Date Published
May 2013
15 pages
In batterer intervention programs, there are conflicting recommendations about best practices for responding to client dropout.
Risk management philosophies emphasize the importance of swift and sure sanctions for failure to comply with program attendance requirements. In contrast, change theory emphasizes the importance of providing clients with multiple opportunities to engage in treatment. To clarify the implications of each of these philosophies, the current study examined rates of program dropout, reinstatement, and completion in a consecutive sample of 294 probation-mandated clients referred to a large batterer intervention program. Just over half (53.7 percent) of men completed intervention on their first attempt. Over the 2-year follow-up study period, 73 clients were reinstated once by the intervention program, 23 clients were reinstated twice, and 5 clients reinstated three (or more) times. Reinstated clients were, in general, more similar to men who failed to complete than those who completed on their first attempt. Although rates of dropout at each reentry point were quite high (56 percent to 80 percent), 32 of the 73 (43.7 percent) reinstated clients eventually completed. There were significant costs associated with providing clients with additional chances to complete the program, with successful reinstatement requiring an average of 7.55 phone calls to clients, 3.82 phone calls to referral agents, one letter, and 0.73 in-person meetings. Results are discussed in terms of practice and policy implications of risk management and change theory approaches to dropout. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.