FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENIJ
TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 1998202/307-0703

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM'S LEVERAGE OVER ABUSERSAIDS PROGRAMS TO STOP BATTERING

WASHINGTON, D.C. - - Intervention programs to stop battering cannot deter domestic violence unless they are supported by the criminal justice system, according to a new Justice Department report. In a sample of intervention programs surveyed by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), about 80 percent of batterers were referred by their probation officers or mandated by the court to attend.

A survey of 13 programs nationwide points out that requiring batterers to enroll in the programs is fast becoming an integral part of the response to domestic violence. But, the NIJ survey concludes that no one intervention program will work with all abusers.

The NIJ report, "Batterer Programs: What Criminal Justice Agencies Need to Know," provides prosecutors, judges and probation officers with information about the range of batterer intervention programs operating, program goals and methods, and also delineates new, innovative approaches to deal with the diversity of batterers. According to the report, batterer programs are most successful when the criminal justice system coordinates its efforts and includes victim advocates, special units and probation agents.

"As this report illustrates, new approaches are continually being developed to reduce recidivism in domestic violence cases," said Jeremy Travis, Director of NIJ. "These programs can reap great benefit from the coercive power of the criminal justice system to substantially curtail this crime." Probation, according to the NIJ report, is a key component because of the role probation officers have in supervising batterers. The combined impact of arrest, incarceration, adjudication and probation supervision may send a stronger message to the batterer than intervention programs that just inform him about the seriousness of his behavior.

Most intervention approaches are structurally similar, proceeding from intake through assessment of the abuser, victim contact, group treatment, and completion of the program, but older programs were based on the premise that violence was linked to male power and control. The report highlights recent innovations: Those programs that focus on specific types of batterers based on psychological profiles or criminal histories, and those tailored to sociocultural differences such as poverty and ethnicity.

To obtain a copy of (NCJ171683, 12 pp.), contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at 1-800/851-3420. To download a copy or to obtain additional information about Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and its programs, visit OJP's web site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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