National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Survey of Prosecutors' Views on Children and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1999 (ICPSR 3103) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This survey of prosecutors was undertaken to describe current practice and identify "promising practices" with respect to cases involving domestic violence and child victims or witnesses. It sought to answer the following questions: (1) What are the challenges facing prosecutors when children are exposed to domestic violence? (2) How are new laws regarding domestic violence committed in the presence of children, now operating in a small number of states, affecting practice? (3) What can prosecutors do to help battered women and their children? To gather data on these topics, the researchers conducted a national telephone survey of prosecutors. Questions asked include case assignment, jurisdiction of the prosecutor's office, caseload, protocol for coordinating cases, asking about domestic violence when investigating child abuse cases, asking about children when investigating domestic violence cases, and how the respondent found out when a child abuse case involved domestic violence or when a domestic violence case involved children. Other variables cover whether police routinely checked for prior Child Protective Services (CPS) reports, if these cases were heard by the same judge, in the same court, and were handled by the same prosecutor, if there were laws identifying exposure to domestic violence as child abuse, if there were laws applying or enhancing criminal penalties when children were exposed to domestic violence, if the state legislature was considering any such action, if prosecutors were using other avenues to enhance penalties, if there was pertinent caselaw, and if the respondent's office had a no-drop policy for domestic violence cases. Additional items focus on whether the presence of children influenced decisions to prosecute, if the office would report or prosecute a battered woman who abused her children, or failed to protect her children from abuse or from exposure to domestic violence, how often the office prosecuted such women, if there was a batterers' treatment program in the community, how often batterers were sentenced to attend the treatment program, if there were programs to which the respondent could refer battered mothers and children, what types of programs were operating, and if prosecutors had received training on domestic violence issues.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Survey of Prosecutors' Views on Children and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1999 - Download All Files (659 KB)

Study Description

Citation

Whitcomb, Debra. Survey of Prosecutors' Views on Children and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1999 . ICPSR03103-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2001. doi:10.3886/ICPSR03103.v1

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Export Citation:

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (NCJ 99-WT-VX-0001)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   battered women, child abuse, children, court cases, domestic violence, family violence, policies and procedures, prosecuting attorneys, treatment programs

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1999

Date of Collection:  

  • 1999

Unit of Observation:   Jurisdictions.

Universe:   Prosecutors' offices that had knowledge of, or experience with, cases involving children and domestic violence in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Violence against women and violence against children are not isolated phenomena. Rather, such violence often co-exists in families. Children who grow up in violent homes suffer a wide range of adverse behavioral and psychological effects, including a tendency to repeat abusive behaviors, as perpetrators and as victims, when they attain adulthood. Increased awareness of the adverse effects of domestic violence on children has prompted some states to enact laws either creating a new offense, or imposing new sanctions, for cases in which domestic violence is committed in the presence of children. It is the prosecutor's job to enforce these new laws, as well as other existing laws that might be relevant. In their efforts to enforce the law while balancing the interests of women and children, prosecutors across the country have found themselves caught in the midst of a debate over how best to protect children in the context of domestic violence. This study aimed to describe current practice and to identify "promising practices" in the response to cases involving domestic violence and child victims or witnesses. It sought to answer the following questions: (1) What are the challenges facing prosecutors when children are exposed to domestic violence? (2) How are the new laws, now operating in a small number of states, affecting practice? (3) What can prosecutors do to help battered women and their children?

Study Design:   In order to identify existing policies and practices in responding to cases involving domestic violence and children as victims or witnesses, the researchers conducted a national telephone survey of prosecutors. In consultation with attorneys from the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, the decision was made to survey two prosecutors' offices in each state, for a total of 100 respondent jurisdictions. The reasoning was that the statutory framework was a key consideration when examining prosecutorial decision-making. Depending upon the structure of each prosecutor's office, it was possible to interview either a single individual with responsibility for all family violence cases (whether as head of a Family Violence Unit or as an individual attorney with this particular assignment), or two prosecutors, one with responsibility for domestic violence cases and the other with responsibility for child abuse cases. For purposes of analysis, in jurisdictions where two prosecutors were interviewed, the two responses were combined, so that the unit of analysis remains the jurisdiction and not the individual attorney.

Sample:   Convenience sampling.

Data Source:

telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Questions asked include case assignment, jurisdiction Cof the prosecutor's office, caseload, protocol for coordinating cases, asking about domestic violence when investigating child abuse cases, asking about children when investigating domestic violence cases, and how the respondent found out when a child abuse case involved domestic violence or when a domestic violence case involved children. Other variables cover whether police routinely checked for prior Child Protective Services (CPS) reports, if these cases were heard by the same judge, in the same court, and were handled by the same prosecutor, if there were laws identifying exposure to domestic violence as child abuse, if there were laws applying or enhancing criminal penalties when children were exposed to domestic violence, if the state legislature was considering any such action, if prosecutors were using other avenues to enhance penalties, if there was pertinent caselaw, and if the respondent's office had a no-drop policy for domestic violence cases. Additional items focus on whether the presence of children influenced decisions to prosecute, if the office would report or prosecute a battered woman who abused her children, or failed to protect her children from abuse or from exposure to domestic violence, how often the office prosecuted such women, if there was a batterers' treatment program in the community, how often batterers were sentenced to attend the treatment program, if there were programs to which the respondent could refer battered mothers and children, what types of programs were operating, and if prosecutors had received training on domestic violence issues.

Response Rates:   The response rate was 93 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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