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Response to Domestic Violence in the Quincy, Massachusetts, District Court, 1995-1997 (ICPSR 3076) RSS

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Summary:

The Quincy, Massachusetts, District Court initiated an aggressive, pro-intervention strategy for dealing with domestic violence cases in 1986. This study was funded to examine the workings of this court and its impact on the lives of victims. The four main goals of the research were: (1) to describe the workings of the primary components of this model jurisdiction in its response to domestic violence, specifically (a) what the police actually did when called to a domestic violence incident, (b) decisions made by the prosecutor's office and the court in their handling of these incidents, (c) how many victims talked to a victim advocate, and (d) how many offenders received batterer treatment and/or were incarcerated, (2) to describe the types of incidents, victims, and offenders seen in a full enforcement jurisdiction to determine if the types of cases coming to attention in such a setting looked similar to cases reported in studies from other jurisdictions, (3) to interview victims to hear directly about their experiences with a model court, and (4) to examine how well this model jurisdiction worked in preventing revictimization. Data used in this study were based on domestic violence cases that resulted in an arrest and arraignment before the Quincy District Court (QDC) during a seven-month study period. Six types of data were collected for this study: (1) The offender's criminal history prior to the study and for one year subsequent to the study incident were provided by the QDC's Department of Probation from the Massachusetts Criminal Records System Board. (2) Civil restraining order data were provided by the Department of Probation from a statewide registry of civil restraining orders. (3) Data on prosecutorial charges for up to three domestic violence-related charges were provided by the Department of Probation. (4) Data on defendants who attended batterer treatment programs were provided by directors of two such programs that served the QDC. (5) Police incident reports from the seven departments served by the QDC were used to measure the officer's perspective and actions taken relating to each incident, what the call for service involved, characteristics of the incident, socio-demographics of the participants, their narrative descriptions of the incident, and their stated response. (6) Interviews with victims were conducted one year after the occurrence of the study incident. Variables from administrative records include date and location of incident, number of suspects, age and race of victims and offenders, use of weapons, injuries, witnesses, whether there was an existing restraining order and its characteristics, charges filed by police, number and gender of police officers responding to the incident, victim's state at the time of the incident, offender's criminal history, and whether the offender participated in batterer treatment. The victim survey collected data on the victim's education and employment status, current living arrangement, relationship with offender, how the victim responded to the incident, how afraid the victim was, victim's opinions of police and the prosecutor, victim's sense of control, satisfaction with the court, victim's past violent relationships and child sexual abuse, victim's opinions on what the criminal justice system could do to stop abuse, and whether the victim obtained a restraining order.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access. (How to apply.)

    Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

Dataset
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Study Description

Citation

Buzawa, Eve, Gerald T. Hotaling, Andrew Klein, and James Byrne. RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTS, DISTRICT COURT, 1995-1997. ICPSR version. Lowell, MA: University of Massachusetts [producer], 2000. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2001. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03076.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-IJ-CX-0027)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   case processing, court cases, courts, domestic violence, imprisonment, offenders, police response, treatment programs, victims

Geographic Coverage:   Massachusetts, Quincy, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1995--1997

Date of Collection:  

  • 1995--1997

Unit of Observation:   Court cases.

Universe:   All male-to-female domestic violence cases handled by the Quincy, Massachusetts, District Court between June 1995 and February 1996.

Data Types:   administrative records data, and survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instrument are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   The Quincy District Court (QDC) serves eastern Norfolk County, along Massachusetts' South Shore, an area of about 100 square miles. The court has jurisdiction for all juveniles and adults charged with any misdemeanor or felony, provided the punishment for the felony is limited to a maximum misdemeanor punishment. The QDC initiated an aggressive, pro-intervention strategy for dealing with domestic violence cases in 1986. This program was nationally recognized by the Violence Against Women Office and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges as a model for its integrated system-wide response to the myriad problems that typically get clustered as "domestic" incidents (e.g., addiction, assault, and abuse) by local police, court, and corrections administrators. This study was funded to examine the workings of this court and its impact on the lives of victims. The four main goals of the research were: (1) to describe the workings of the primary components of this model jurisdiction in its response to domestic violence, specifically (a) what the police actually did when called to a domestic violence incident, (b) decisions made by the prosecutor's office and the court in their handling of these incidents, (c) how many victims talked to a victim advocate, and (d) how many offenders received batterer treatment and/or were incarcerated, (2) to describe the types of incidents, victims, and offenders seen in a full enforcement jurisdiction to determine if the types of cases coming to attention in such a setting looked similar to cases reported in studies from other jurisdictions, (3) to interview victims to hear directly about their experiences with a model court, and (4) to examine how well this model jurisdiction worked in preventing revictimization.

Study Design:   This project focused only on male-to-female violence. This distinction was made because this was the definition utilized by the Violence Against Women Act, in which the assumption was made that there are unique aspects to these relationships that distinguish them from other types of domestic assault. Data used in this study were based on domestic violence cases that resulted in an arrest and arraignment before the Quincy District Court during a seven-month study period. All consecutive arrests for domestic violence involving male defendants and female victims that occurred between June 1995 and February 1996 were initially examined for inclusion in the final sample. From that pool the investigators eliminated cases involving defendants and primary victims who were under the age of 17, cases involving same-sex relationships, and cases involving male victims and female defendants. The final sample was composed of 353 cases of male-to-female domestic violence. It can be described as a population since it included every case in this category of incidents that occurred during the study's data collection period. Six types of data were collected for this study: (1) The offender's criminal history prior to the study and for one year subsequent to the study incident were provided by the QDC's Department of Probation from the Massachusetts Criminal Records System Board. (2) Civil restraining order data were provided by the Department of Probation from a statewide registry of civil restraining orders. (3) Data on prosecutorial charges for up to three domestic violence-related charges were provided by the Department of Probation. (4) Data on defendants who attended batterer treatment programs were provided by directors of two such programs that served the QDC. (5) Police incident reports from the seven departments served by the QDC were used to measure the officer's perspective and actions taken related to each incident, what the call for service involved, characteristics of the incident, socio-demographics of the participants, their narrative descriptions of the incident, and their stated response. (6) Interviews with victims were conducted one year after the occurrence of the study incident.

Data Source:

administrative records from the Quincy, Massachusetts, District Court Department of Probation, two batterer treatment programs, and the police department, and telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Variables from administrative records include date and location of incident, number of suspects, age and race of victims and offenders, use of weapons, injuries, witnesses, whether there was an existing restraining order and its characteristics, charges filed by police, number and gender of police officers responding to the incident, victim's state at the time of the incident, offender's criminal history, and whether the offender participated in batterer treatment. The victim survey collected data on the victim's education and employment status, current living arrangement, relationship with the offender, how the victim responded to the incident, how afraid the victim was, victim's opinions of police and the prosecutor, victim's sense of control, satisfaction with the court, victim's past violent relationships and child sexual abuse, victim's opinions on what the criminal justice system could do to stop abuse, and whether the victim obtained a restraining order.

Response Rates:   Victim interviews were completed with 35 percent of eligible study respondents.

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:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

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