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Effect of Victim Impact Panels on DUI Rearrest Rates: A 5-Year Follow-Up

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 41 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 1319-1340
Dean G. Rojek; James E. Coverdill; Stuart W. Fors
Robert J. Bursik Jr.
Date Published
November 2003
22 pages
By drawing on evidence from a quasi-experimental design and a 5-year follow-up, this study examined the effects of victim impact panels (VIP's) on DUI recidivism.
Victim Impact Panels (VIP's) were introduced by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1982. Today, VIP's have spread throughout the United States. VIP's provide a forum for DUI victims to share their personal trauma with convicted drunk drivers who are sentenced by a judge to participate in the program. Rather than condemning DUI offenders, VIP's focus on first-hand testimony from victims. This study examined the role that VIP's might play in reducing DUI recidivism. In addition, the study reviews theoretical rationales for VIP programs and what is known from the evaluation studies, describes the quasi-experimental research design and the structure and content of the VIP's that constitute the key treatment effect and describes the statistical methods. The VIP group in this study consisted of 404 individuals residing in Clarke County, GA who had been convicted of a DUI in the first 6 months of 1994. All subjects were followed for exactly 5 years; 1994-1999 for the VIP group and 1993-1998 for the comparison group. Results are presented in four main sections addressing a question of interest: (1) are the VIP and comparison groups similar in terms of age, race, gender, and prior DUI convictions; (2) do the VIP and comparison groups have different patterns of rearrest over the 5-year observation period; (3) does the effect of experiencing a victim impact panel on DUI rearrest vary over time or by subject characteristics, such as age, gender, race, or a history of previous DUI convictions; and (4) is the apparent effect of victim impact panels in lowering recidivism an artifact of the study’s design? The overall findings suggest that VIPs may reduce DUI recidivism. Results of the 5-year follow-up of DUI offenders show that those who participated in the VIP were much less likely to become DUI recidivists than those who did not attend a VIP session. The results show that there is diminishment of the VIP effect after the second year and a largely similar effect between groups in years 3 through 5. References