The primary goal of this study was to determine if Rhode Island police are correctly identifying stalkers and whether such identification impacts the likelihood of subsequent arrest and prosecution in the short term, and the likelihood of reabuse in the longer term.
The research team collected data from statewide datasets on 268 stalking cases including a population of 108 police identified stalking cases across Rhode Island between 2001 and 2005 with a sample of 160 "researcher identified stalking incidents" (incidents that met statutory criteria for stalking but were cited by police for other domestic violence offenses) during the same period. The secondary data used for this study came from the Rhode Island Supreme Court Domestic Violence Training and Monitoring Unit's (DVU) statewide database of domestic violence incidents reported to Rhode Island law enforcement. Data on all incidents of domestic violence, arrests and non-arrests, are submitted to the DVU by Rhode Island law enforcement agencies using the legislatively mandated Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault/Child Molestation Police Reporting Form (DV/SA form) and incident reports of domestic abuse and/or sexual assault/child molestation. Prior criminal history data were obtained from records of all court cases entered into the automated Rhode Island court file, CourtConnect, through the last record check on July 16, 2008. The automated records contained all felony court cases entered from 1979 and misdemeanors from the mid-1980's onward.
The data collection is comprised of 268 stalking cases including 108 police identified stalking cases and 160 "researcher identified stalking incidents" (incidents that met statutory criteria for stalking but were cited by police for other domestic violence offenses). Researchers identified every domestic violence incident report between 2001 and 2005 inclusive with female victims where Rhode Island police identified the case as stalking. The resulting 108 police identified stalking cases represents the complete population of all stalkers identified by police in incident reports from 2001 through 2005.
The research team also reviewed reports of domestic violence incidents not identified as stalking cases by Rhode Island police filed between 2001 and 2005. Cases from each year were reviewed until researchers identified 35 incident reports that met the statutory definition of stalking for each year. Researchers did not review all domestic violence incident reports, but reviewed all cases beginning with those filed January 1 in 2001, 2002, and 2004, and cases filed April 1 in 2003 and 2005. The two separate time periods were employed to ensure that cases were not all drawn only from the same months for each year. The researcher identified stalking incidents represent a sample, not the complete population of stalking incidents, unlike the police identified stalking cases. Only cases in which the victim was a female, regardless of the gender of the offender, were included in the sample. A total of 2,582 domestic violence incidents were reviewed from the years 2001-2005 and 175 were identified as meeting the criteria for the crime of stalking. Of the 175 cases, 15 involved the same stalkers so the actual sample of unduplicated researcher identified stalking incidents used in the study is 160.
All stalking incidents identified by Rhode Island law enforcement and all domestic violence cases reported to Rhode Island law enforcement between 2001 and 2005.
Prior history data were obtained from records of all court cases entered into the automated Rhode Island court file, CourtConnect, through the last record check on July 16, 2008.
Rhode Island Supreme Court Domestic Violence Training and Monitoring Unit's statewide database of domestic violence incidents reported to Rhode Island law enforcement.
administrative records data
The data contain a total of 121 variables including suspect characteristics, victim characteristics, incident characteristics, police response characteristics, and prosecutor response characteristics. Suspect and victim characteristics variables include general demographic information. Suspect characteristics also include variables on prior arrests, offenses, types of offenses, and incarcerations. Victim characteristics also include variables on relationship to the suspect, type of contact initiated by the suspect, and the demeanor after law enforcement arrived. Law enforcement characteristics variables include the police response to stalking incidents. Prosecutor characteristics variables include data regarding if they chose to prosecute stalking offenses and what other charges were brought, if any.