Principal Investigator(s): Davis, Robert C., Vera Institute of Justice; Taylor, Bruce G., United States Department of Justice. National Institute of Justice; Maxwell, Christopher D., Michigan State University
The researchers sought to add to the incipient literature on randomized studies of batterer treatment, by conducting an experimental study that compared batterers assigned to treatment to batterers assigned to a community service program irrelevant to the problem of violence. The study was conducted using a true experimental design and consisted of 376 spousal assault cases drawn from the Kings County (New York) Criminal Court which were adjudicated between February 19, 1995, and March 1, 1996. Batterers were mandated to attend a 40-hour batterer treatment program or to complete 40 hours of community service. The random assignment was made at sentencing, after all parties (judge, prosecutor, and defense) had agreed that batterer treatment was appropriate, the defendant agreed to treatment and was accepted by the Alternatives to Violence (ATV) program, and the program was available based on the random assignment process. Interviews were also conducted with both the batterer and the victim at sentencing as well as 6 months post-sentence and 12 months post-sentence. These interviews collected data in areas regarding demographics (first interview only), recidivism, beliefs about domestic violence, conflict management strategies, locus of control, and for victims, self esteem. Administrative records were also used to obtain data regarding any new crimes committed.
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Davis, Robert C., Bruce G. Taylor, and Christopher D. Maxwell. Domestic Violence Experiment in King's County (Brooklyn), New York, 1995-1997. ICPSR2247-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-08-01. doi:10.3886/ICPSR2247.v1
Persistent URL: http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04307.v1
This study was funded by:
- United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (94-IJ-CX-0047)
Scope of Study
Smallest Geographic Unit: precinct
Date of Collection:
Unit of Observation: individual
Universe: Defendants under the jurisdiction of the Kings County (New York) Criminal Court for domestic assault charges from February 19, 1995, to March 1, 1996.
Data Types: administrative records data, event/transaction data, medical records, survey data
Study Purpose: The researchers sought to add to the incipient literature on randomized studies of batterer treatment. Unlike other studies, batterers in the site of this study were mandated to treatment by judicial order instead of probation departments. The researchers also aimed to complete a study that compared batterers assigned to treatment to batterers assigned to a community service program irrelevant to the problem of violence, whereas previous studies compared treatment to the absence of treatment. The researchers also sought to find both short-term (6 months post-sentence) and long-term (12 months post-sentence) treatment outcomes.
Study Design: The study was conducted using a true experimental design consisting of spousal assault cases drawn from three of eight post-arraignment parts in Kings County (New York) Criminal Court. Two of the parts were specialized domestic violence parts, and the third was a jury trial part where domestic violence and other cases were transferred if a negotiated disposition could not be reached. The cases included were adjudicated between February 19, 1995, and March 1, 1996. The study consisted of 376 criminal court defendants who were mandated to attend a 40-hour batterer treatment program or to complete 40 hours of community service. The random assignment was made at sentencing, after all parties (judge, prosecutor, and defense) had agreed that batterer treatment was appropriate, the defendant agreed to batterer treatment and was accepted by the Alternatives to Violence (ATV) program, and the program was available based on the random assignment process. Batterers and victims were interviewed separately to gather data regarding background information (violence histories and demography), measures of new violence, beliefs about domestic violence, conflict management skills, and locus of control. Several measures of new violence were also included such as new arrests, new crime reports (that may or may not result in an arrest), and self-reports of violence by victims and batterers. In addition, victims were administered a short scale measuring well-being. Upon completion of the first interview, the defendant's name and case identifier were entered onto the next line of a logbook. Each line of the book had a pre-assigned treatment designation (batterer treatment or community service) determined through the use of a random number table. Defendants assigned to the ATV batterer treatment program were given a start date (usually within a week of intake). The interviews were conducted on three occasions: at the time of sentencing (in person with the batterer and via phone with the victim), at 6 months after sentencing, and 12 months after sentencing -- via phone for both the second and third interviews. Interviews at the three time points were identical except for the omission of background information on the second and third interviews. Official data on new complaints to the police and new arrests were gathered 6 and 12 months after sentencing, using computerized administrative records. With the help of ATV administrators, an eight-week ATV course was developed for this study based on the original model of 26 weeks where participants could complete the same 40 hours of group time through bi-weekly two-and-one-half hour sessions with lower fees per session. The new format began to be offered after the first 129 participants had been assigned to the original 26-week groups, therefore from August 15, 1995, until the end of intake, defendants were offered a choice between 8-week and 26-week formats. Defendants rejected by lottery from batterer treatment were mandated by judges to participate in 40 hours of community service. Typically, the service was performed over a two-week period. For offenders who were employed, flexible hours were arranged over a two-month period in order that they could continue their jobs. Participants were assigned to work on renovating housing units, clearing vacant lots to make way for community gardens, painting senior citizen centers, and cleaning up playgrounds. In the course of their service, participants were given education about drugs and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Participants in both forms of treatment were expelled if a pattern of nonattendance developed.
Sample: The sampling frame consisted of spousal assault cases in Kings County (New York) Criminal Court which were adjudicated between February 19, 1995, and March 1, 1996. Batterers were only eligible for inclusion in the experiment if all parties (prosecutor, defense, and judge) agreed that batterer treatment was appropriate. Such agreement was not forthcoming in a small percentage of cases, most often because the defense refused to agree to treatment. Additionally, all defendants had to agree to batterer treatment, be accepted to the Alternatives to Violence (ATV) program, and the program needed to be available to them based on the random assignment process. Since all defendants had to agree to treatment, the study did not include cases where batterers were unmotivated. However, all participants were court-mandated -- they did not volunteer for treatment on their own volition. Still, it was common knowledge in the Kings County (New York) Criminal Court that misdemeanor batterer defendants were not facing jail time, and participants in treatment certainly knew from counsel that they were choosing the program over another alternative to incarceration. In 28 percent of the control cases, judges overrode the random assignment to deny batterer treatment and instead mandated the ATV program for defendants who had been assigned to community service. There were no judicial overrides of cases randomly assigned to the ATV program.
Mode of Data Collection: face-to-face interview, telephone interview, record abstracts
Data for this study were gathered through both face-to-face and telephone interviews with the defendant and telephone interviews with the victim. Computerized information was also collected from records of the Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
Description of Variables: Data collected in this study include demographic information gathered about the batterer and the victim such as age, race, ethnic group, educational attainment, employment status, job type, income, and source of income. Variables are also included from both parties on their status as a couple when the assault occurred and the number of children the couple share together. Batterer-specific variables include the type of treatment the batterer was assigned to, the number of previous cases against the batterer, and the use of substances. Victim-specific variables include the frequency, types, and severity of abuse inflicted upon them and the type of assistance, if any, they received (medical, social, financial, or psychological). Psychological variables are also included regarding victim self esteem. Data are also included on their feelings about how much of a threat they believed their batterers were to them. Information from administrative records includes dates and types of any new crimes or arrests by the batterers.
Response Rates: The response rate with victims was 50 percent for the first interview, 46 percent for the second interview, and 50 percent for the third interview. First interviews with batterers were obtained with 95 percent of the sample because defendants were present at intake in court for the treatment program. Subsequent completion rates were 40 percent for the second interview and 24 percent for the third interview.
Presence of Common Scales: Harrell's adaptation of the Straus Conflict Tactics Scale, a scale based on the Inventory of Beliefs about Wife Beating Scale, Conflict Resolution Skills Scale, 12 items from the Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Control Scale, the Life Satisfaction Scale (Index B), and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
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.
Original ICPSR Release: 2006-08-01
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