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Evaluation of Court-ordered Treatment for Domestic Violence Offenders: Final Report

NCJ Number
A Harrell
Date Published
108 pages
The impact of court-ordered treatment for abusing spouses was evaluated using data from three treatment programs in Baltimore County (Md.).
The treatment consisted of weekly 1.5-hour group sessions of 15 male abusers, most of whom were under court order to attend. The treatment programs used behavioral training in interpersonal communication, cognitive restructuring to change embedded beliefs about violence, and training in techniques for avoiding violence. The research used a quasi-experimental design to compare 81 cases in which the offender completed the court-ordered treatment with 112 cases in which the offender was not ordered to attend batterer treatment. The analysis focused on changes in violent behavior, psychological abuse, and the use of nonviolent conflict resolution skills during disagreements, as well as the victims' safety and the offenders' subsequent involvement with the criminal justice system. Cumulatively, the findings indicated that the programs failed to meet the expectations of the victims, the courts, and the treatment providers in stopping or reducing violence, improving victim safety, and reducing the demand for justice-system intervention. Possible explanations that deserve further analysis are that the treatment models were inadequate, the treatment procedures were inadequately implemented, the treatment impact was reduced by the failure to sanction noncompliance, and the evaluation methods were flawed. Results supported the recommendations that the findings be generalized only to programs that are similar in structure and implementation and that the results be replicated before concluding that similar programs are likely to have no impact. Results also suggested the importance of several specific measures for effective intervention with abusers. Tables, footnotes, and 67 references