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Evaluation of No-Drop Policies for Domestic Violence Cases in San Diego, California, Omaha, Nebraska, Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Everett, Washington, 1996-2000 (ICPSR 3319)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study sought to examine the effects of no-drop policies on court outcomes, victim satisfaction with the justice system, and feelings of safety. Moreover, researchers wanted to determine whether (1) prosecution without the victim's cooperation was feasible with appropriate increases in resources, (2) implementing a no-drop policy resulted in increased convictions and fewer dismissals, (3) the number of trials would increase in jurisdictions where no-drop was adopted as a result of the prosecutor's demand for a plea in cases in which victims were uncooperative or unavailable, and (4) prosecutors would have to downgrade sentence demands to persuade defense attorneys to negotiate pleas in the new context of a no-drop policy. Statutes implemented in San Diego, California, were designed to make it easier to admit certain types of evidence and thereby to increase the prosecutor's chances of succeeding in trials without victim cooperation. To assess the impact of these statutes, researchers collected official records data on a sample of domestic violence cases in which disposition occurred between 1996 and 2000 and resulted in no trial (Part 1), and cases in which disposition occurred between 1996 and 1999, and resulted in a trial (Part 2). In Everett, Washington (Part 3), Klamath Falls, Oregon (Part 4), and Omaha, Nebraska (Part 5), researchers collected data on all domestic violence cases in which disposition occurred between 1996 and 1999 and resulted in a trial. Researchers also conducted telephone interviews in the four sites with domestic violence victims whose cases resolved under the no-drop policy (Part 6) in the four sites. Variables for Part 1 include defendant's gender, court outcome, whether the defendant was sentenced to probation, jail, or counseling, and whether the counseling was for batterer, drug, or anger management. Criminal history, other domestic violence charges, and the relationship between the victim and defendant are also included. Variables for Part 2 include length of trial and outcome, witnesses for the prosecution, defendant's statements to the police, whether there were photos of the victim's injury, the scene, or the weapon, and whether medical experts testified. Criminal history and whether the defendant underwent psychological evaluation or counseling are also included. Variables for Parts 3-5 include the gender of the victim and defendant, relationship between victim and defendant, top charges and outcomes, whether the victim had to be subpoenaed, types of witnesses, if there was medical evidence, type of weapon used, if any, whether the defendant confessed, any indications that the prosecutor talked to the victim, if the victim was in court on the disposition date, the defendant's sentence, and whether the sentence included electronic surveillance, public service, substance abuse counseling, or other general counseling. Variables for Part 6 include relationship between victim and defendant, whether the victim wanted the defendant to be arrested, whether the defendant received treatment for alcohol, drugs, or domestic violence, if the court ordered the defendant to stay away from the victim, and if the victim spoke to anyone in the court system, such as the prosecutor, detective, victim advocate, defense attorney, judge, or a probation officer. The victim's satisfaction with the police, judge, prosecutor, and the justice system, and whether the defendant had continued to threaten, damage property, or abuse the victim verbally or physically are also included. Demographic variables on the victim include race, income, and level of education.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  San Diego Non-Trial Case Data - Download All Files (0.6 MB)
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SDA
DS2:  San Diego Trial Case Data - Download All Files (0.5 MB)
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SDA
DS3:  Everett Case Data - Download All Files (0.3 MB)
Data:
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SDA
DS4:  Klamath Falls Case Data - Download All Files (0.5 MB)
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SDA
DS5:  Omaha Case Data - Download All Files (0.7 MB)
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SDA
DS6:  Victim Interview Data - Download All Files (0.6 MB)
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SDA

Study Description

Citation

Smith, Barbara E., Robert Davis, Laura B. Nickles, and Heather J. Davies. Evaluation of No-Drop Policies for Domestic Violence Cases in San Diego, California, Omaha, Nebraska, Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Everett, Washington, 1996-2000. ICPSR03319-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2002. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03319.v1

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Export Citation:

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  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (98-WT-VX-0029)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   court cases, criminal histories, defendants, disposition (legal), domestic violence, judicial process, prosecution, sentencing, trials, victim safety, victim services, victims

Geographic Coverage:   California, Everett, Klameth Falls, Nebraska, Omaha, Oregon, San Diego, United States, Washington

Time Period:  

  • 1996--2000

Date of Collection:  

  • 1999--2000

Unit of Observation:   Parts 1-5: Domestic violence cases. Part 6: Individuals.

Universe:   Part 1: Domestic violence cases in San Diego, California, with disposition dates between 1996-2000 resulting in no trial. Parts 2-5: Domestic violence cases in San Diego, California, Everett, Washington, Kalmath Falls, Oregon, and Omaha, Nebraska, with disposition dates between 1996 and 1999 resulting in trial. Part 6: Domestic violence victims in San Diego, California, Everett, Washington, Kalmath Falls, Oregon, and Omaha, Nebraska, whose cases were resolved under a no-drop policy.

Data Types:   administrative records data, survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   During the late 1980s and 1990s, the law enforcement response to domestic violence changed substantially. Legal impediments to police officers' making warrantless arrests for misdemeanors they did not witness were removed. The old system was replaced by presumptive arrest statutes (under which police were encouraged to make arrests) or statutes making arrest mandatory when probable cause existed. Many victim advocates supported these changes, arguing that taking the decision to arrest away from victims shielded them from possible retaliation by batterers. The changes in police practices regarding domestic incidents were paralleled by changes in the prosecution of these cases. Many jurisdictions changed their prosecution policies to (1) assure that all legally sufficient domestic cases would be prosecuted whether or not victims were fully cooperative, (2) drop the requirement that victims sign a complaint, and (3) forbid victims from dropping charges once filed. Other jurisdictions facilitated the process of obtaining restraining orders, established special domestic violence courts staffed with personnel specially trained in handling the complications of domestic cases, or established better coordination among police, prosecution, judicial, and probation agencies. Some prosecutors adopted a policy that paralleled mandatory arrest policies of the police. So-called "no-drop" or "evidence-based" prosecution was pioneered in places like Duluth and San Diego as a response to the high dismissal rate of domestic violence cases. Until that time, it had been the practice of most prosecutors and judges to dismiss domestic cases in which the victim was unwilling to come to court or to testify against the defendant. Since many victims failed to cooperate for a variety of reasons, domestic violence cases had dismissal rates many times higher than other crimes. This study sought to examine the effects of no-drop policies on court outcomes, victim satisfaction with the justice system, and feelings of safety. Moreover, researchers wanted to determine whether (1) prosecution without the victim's cooperation was feasible with appropriate increases in resources, (2) implementing a no-drop policy resulted in increased convictions and fewer dismissals, (3) the number of trials would increase in jurisdictions where no-drop was adopted as a result of the prosecutor's demand for a plea in cases in which victims were uncooperative or unavailable, and (4) prosecutors would have to downgrade sentence demands to persuade defense attorneys to negotiate pleas in the new context of a no-drop policy.

Study Design:   Researchers identified sites where the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) had awarded funds for no-drop prosecution (under the Violence Against Women Office (VAWO) grant program) to encourage arrest policies. From the handful of grantees who had been awarded funds to implement no-drop, researchers chose Everett, Washington, Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Omaha, Nebraska. These three sites seemed the most committed to implementing a strong no-drop policy. Researchers also added San Diego in order to examine the effects of two state laws favorable to prosecutors. These statutes were designed to make it easier to admit certain types of evidence and thereby increase the prosecutor's chances of succeeding in trials without victim cooperation. To assess the impact of the statutes, researchers collected official records data on a sample of domestic violence cases (with disposition occurring between 1996 and 2000) resulting in no trial (Part 1) and cases (with disposition occurring between 1996 and 1999) which resulted in a trial (Part 2). Even though San Diego had not applied for funds under the arrest policies grant program, researchers believed it was important to include it. San Diego was not only the first place to try no-drop, but it was also widely considered to have been the most successful at implementing the policy. In the remaining three sites, Everett (Part 3), Klamath Falls (Part 4), and Omaha (Part 5), researchers collected data on all domestic violence cases (with disposition occurring between 1996 and 1999) resulting in a trial. Researchers had hoped to gather samples of domestic violence case files from before and after the implementation of the no-drop policy. This would have enabled them to determine how these policies affected conviction rates, sentences, trial rates, and trial verdicts. However, researchers were only able to obtain pre- and post-no-drop data in Everett (Part 5). Researchers also conducted telephone interviews with domestic violence victims from the four sites who had a domestic violence case resolved under the no-drop policy (Part 6). The survey asked victims about (1) what they believed should have been done with the case (from dropping charges to sentencing batterers to jail terms), (2) their willingness to cooperate with criminal justice officials, (3) their contact with victim advocates, (4) their belief that their views were heard and considered by criminal justice officials, (5) their satisfaction with officials (police, prosecutor, and judge) and with the case outcome, (6) their beliefs about whether the criminal justice outcome had increased or decreased their safety, and (7) the level of violence experienced after the case was resolved in court. Extensive efforts were made to reach victims. First, researchers attempted to make contact using the phone number provided by the prosecutor's office. If the number was disconnected or the victim no longer lived at that address, an interviewer called a telephone directory/information to obtain the new number listed for the victim. To encourage victim participation, victims were monetarily compensated. For victims who refused to participate, interviewers tried to alleviate any concerns about the interview and made assurances that confidentiality would be maintained.

Sample:   Convenience sampling and random sampling.

Data Source:

administrative records data and telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Variables for Part 1 include defendant's gender, court outcome, whether the defendant was sentenced to probation, jail, or counseling, and whether the counseling was for batter, drug, or anger management. Criminal history, other domestic violence charges, and the relationship between the victim and defendant are also included. Variables for Part 2 include length of trial and outcome, witnesses for the prosecution, defendant's statements to the police, whether there were photos of the victim's injury, the scene, or the weapon, and whether medical experts testified. Criminal history and whether the defendant underwent psychological evaluation or counseling are also included. Variables for Parts 3-5 include the gender of the victim and defendant, relationship between victim and defendant, top charges and outcomes, whether the victim had to be subpoenaed, types of witnesses, if there was medical evidence, type of weapon used, if any, whether the defendant confessed, any indications that the prosecutor talked to the victim, if the victim was in court on the disposition date, the defendant's sentence, and whether the sentence included electronic surveillance, public service, substance abuse counseling, or other general counseling. Variables for Part 6 include relationship between victim and defendant, whether the victim wanted the defendant to be arrested, whether the defendant received treatment for alcohol, drugs, or domestic violence, if the court ordered the defendant to stay away from the victim, if the victim spoke to anyone in the court system, such as the prosecutor, detective, victim advocate, defense attorney, judge, or a probation officer. The victim's satisfaction with the police, judge, prosecutor, and the justice system, and whether the defendant had continued to threaten, damage property, or abuse the victim verbally or physically are also included. Demographic variables on the victim include race, income, and level of education.

Response Rates:   Parts 1-5: Not applicable. The response rate for Part 6 was 18.4 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used in Part 6.

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.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File UG3319.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CB3319.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 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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