The purpose of the study was to assess whether proactive enforcement of court imposed no-contact orders (NCOs):
- Increased victim knowledge about no-contact orders;
- Reduced contact between offenders and victims; and
- Increased victim safety and promoted well-being.
The study examined the impact of proactive enforcement of court imposed no-contact orders (NCOs) on offender behavior and victim safety in cases of misdemeanor domestic violence. Misdemeanor criminal domestic violence cases were randomly assigned to either systematic, proactive enforcement or to routine, reactive enforcement of court ordered no-contact conditions between November 2005 and July 2007. The treatment condition involved the following intervention: (1) a special domestic violence investigator assigned by the jurisdiction's sheriff proactively "checked in" with the "treatment" group of victims to verify that they understood the NCO and to monitor compliance; (2) the investigator provided advice on mobilizing law enforcement and collecting evidence to help sanction the offender if the order was violated. Law enforcement contacts were directed at victims in the treatment group whose abusers had been arrested for domestic violence and released on bond with the restriction that the offenders have no contact with their victims.
Dedicated officer contacts were divided into two types. Those contacts prior to the first court appearances were designed to educate victims on NCOs, provide them information on criminal domestic violence and NCOs, teach them how to document offender contact, and conduct offender surveillance. These contacts included an initial mail contact and in-person or phone contacts. The personal contacts were scheduled to occur 72 hours after the NCO's imposition, one week after the imposition, and one week prior to first appearance.
The second set of attempted victim contacts were to occur after the offenders' first court appearance. The goal of these contacts was continued risk assessment, visits to check on victims, and offender surveillance. The schedule for these contacts would vary according to the offender's path through the criminal justice system. For pretrial intervention cases attempts were made to contact victims once every three months, for bench trial cases contacts were scheduled within five days of the bench trial, and for jury trial cases contact was scheduled every three months and 48 hours before the jury trial.
The effectiveness of the proactive enforcement of no-contact orders was assessed using official criminal records (Dataset 1, Offender Data) and victim survey data (Dataset 2, Time 1 Victim Interview Data; Dataset 3, Time 2 Victim Interview Data; and Dataset 4, Combined Time 1/Time 2 Victim Interview Data).
After study enrollment ended in the summer of 2007, researchers obtained official criminal records for each of the offenders enrolled in the study (Dataset 1, Offender Data, N=517). Specific information about the incident that led to the case's inclusion in the study (the "gateway" incident), follow up arrest records (for arrests both before and after the gateway incident), and court dispositions were obtained from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department (LCSD), the Criminal Domestic Violence Court (CDVC), the Office of Diversion Programs (ODP), and the South Carolina Judicial Department Web site.
Interviews with victims commenced in January 2006. Efforts were made to contact each of the 437 female victims enrolled in the study. Interviews were targeted to occur at six weeks after the gateway incident (Dataset 2, Time 1 Victim Interview Data, N=141) and then again at six months after the gateway incident (Dataset 3, Time 2 Victim Interview Data, N=100). The vast majority of interviews were face-to-face meetings at a local hospital. In some instances when it was not possible for the victim to participate in a face-to-face interview, telephone interviews were conducted.
The study used convenience sampling. Efforts were made to contact each of the 437 female victims enrolled in the study. Although there were 80 female offenders, only female victims cases were enrolled in the experiment. Therefore, no efforts were made to contact male victims for interviews.
Longitudinal: Cohort / Event-based
All individual offenders charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and their victims in Lexington County, South Carolina between 2005 and 2008.
administrative records data
Dataset 1 (Offender Data) includes variables to measure offender demographic characteristics, details of the gateway incident, previous arrests, subsequent arrests, completion of a diversion program, and gateway incident case disposition.
The victim interviews (Dataset 2, Time 1 Victim Interview Data; and Dataset 3, Time 2 Victim Interview Data) include variables to measure victim demographic characteristics, living circumstances, life experiences, interactions with the offender, interactions with the Lexington County Sheriff's Department (LCSD) and the Criminal Domestic Violence Court (CDVC), an understanding of the no-contact order, safety, and well-being.
Dataset 4 (Combined Time 1/Time 2 Victim Interview Data) includes overall measures of safety, interactions with the offender, LCSD, and CDVC with 97 victims who completed both the Time 1 and Time 2 interviews.
The response rate for Dataset 2 (Time 1 Victim Interview Data) was 141 interviews out of 437 potential respondents. The response rate for Dataset 3 (Time 2 Victim Interview Data) was 100 interviews out of 437 potential respondents. The response rate for Dataset 4 (Combined Time 1/Time 2 Victim Interview Data) was 97 interviews out of 437 potential respondents.
Scales used in Dataset 2 (Time 1 Victim Interview Data) and Dataset 3 (Time 2 Victim Interview Data) include:
- Modified Beck Depression Inventory (Beck and Beck, 1972)
- Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2) (Straus, et al., 1996) which includes the Psychological Aggression scale, the Physical Assault scale, the Sexual Coercion scale, the Injury scale, and the Stalking and Threats scale.