The purpose of the research was to learn about the effectiveness of supervision of domestic violence offenders on probation. Specifically, the study sought to determine which, if any, probation practices promote victim safety and hold offenders accountable.
This study used several data collection strategies to better evaluate and compare two domestic violence offender case management strategies. The quantitative analysis was based on the findings from a nonrandom representative sample of 551 male probationers drawn from the nearly 3,000 misdemeanor domestic probationers in Rhode Island as of January 1, 2003. These offenders were, at the time of their sentencing, placed in either a regular or specialized domestic violence caseload determined by probation policies for each of 10 caseloads included in the study. A total of 182 offenders were placed on traditional supervision, while 369 offenders were placed in a specialized domestic violence unit. The probationers were tracked through January 1, 2004, to determine recidivism and reabuse differences between these supervision approaches.
Even though the selection was not random, the two sets of probationers proved equivalent based on defendant, victim, and incident characteristics. Because the probationers began their probationary periods at different times, the time that elapsed between probation placement and last record check differed. The longest elapsed period was just over two years for defendants placed on probation more than a year before January 1, 2003. The shortest elapsed period was over one year for defendants just placed on probation as of January 1, 2003. The latter defendants could have been under supervision all but a month or two before the final record check, while the former defendants may have been off their study probation for more than a year. Even though the different measurement lengths affect opportunities for reabuse and rearrest, the same ranges were equivalent between control and treatment cases.
There were three measures used to determine reabuse and recidivism: (1) rearrest for either an offense classified as domestic violence or for any other offense resulting in the defendant being charged and arraigned in a Rhode Island court; (2) a police report filed for an incident classified as domestic violence, whether or not an arrest was made; and (3) a victim report of domestic violence obtained in study interviews (see Data Collection Notes).
The quantitative analysis is based on the findings from a nonrandom representative sample of 551 male probationers drawn from the nearly 3,000 misdemeanor domestic probationers in Rhode Island as of January 1, 2003. These offenders were, at the time of their sentencing, placed in either a regular or specialized domestic violence caseload determined by probation policies for each of 10 caseloads included in the study. A total of 182 offenders, generally in the southern tier of Rhode Island, were placed on traditional supervision, while a total of 369 offenders, generally in the northern tier of Rhode Island, were placed in a specialized domestic violence unit. The probation department provided the researchers with a list of male offenders with female intimate partner victims. Although the classification was informal, those selected for intensive supervision tended to be recidivist probationers. The researchers did not have access to records for any domestic violence offenders under age 18.
Male misdemeanor domestic violence offenders who were on probation on January 1, 2003, in the state of Rhode Island.
Probation officer interviews
Office of the Attorney General
Domestic Violence Training and Monitoring Unit
Probation case files
administrative records data
The data file contains 115 variables including basic information regarding the offender such as age, caseload number, and caseload type. Additional variables detail the relationship between the offender and the victim, as well as the offender's previous arrest record, and previous domestic violence incidents involving the offender.