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Marin County Arrest Policy Enhancement and Legal Support Collaborative Project: A Process Evaluation

NCJ Number
Brenda K. Uekert Ph.D.
Date Published
December 2000
17 pages
This report presents the findings and recommendations of a process evaluation of the Arrest Program in Marin County, CA, which is funded under a Federal grant that is intended to promote the implementation of mandatory or proarrest policies as an effective domestic-violence intervention that is part of a coordinated community response to domestic violence.
A section of the report on the project environment presents an overview of Marin County demographics and the Arrest Program's organizational partners. The project involves four organizations: Legal Aid of Marin, Marin Abused Women's Services (MAWS), the Family Law Center (FLC), and the Marin County District Attorney's Office. Legal Aid of Marin is the lead agency for the project. The grant proposal's overall goal was to design, implement, and test a protocol for providing comprehensive pretrial services for victims of domestic violence. The research component of the project was to test the theory that comprehensive pretrial civil legal assistance and social services would reduce the number of victim retractions, such that prosecution outcomes would be improved. Specific objectives were the provision of immediate postarrest and pretrial civil legal assistance, safety planning, and emotional support for up to 100 domestic-violence victims; performance of a system-requirements analysis for the purpose of creating an integrated tracking system for domestic-violence cases; the strengthening of legal advocacy service programs for domestic-violence victims; and training for all collaborative participants in the purpose and use of an integrated data system, as well as in victim response as affected by life experiences, psychological complexity, and cultural diversity. The process evaluation focused on the assessment of outcomes, interagency collaboration, information systems, training, and support services. The evaluation concluded that the project has produced some important resources for domestic-violence victims that were not previously available, and it has contributed to MAWS' expansion into the field of court advocacy, while encouraging the civil legal community to consider the special needs of domestic-violence victims. Although there were difficulties in reaching the stated objectives, there were clearly benefits provided to victims of domestic violence. The interagency collaboration, however, was clearly not working at the time of the evaluation. Results from a questionnaire administered to project partners showed that there was no consensus among partners on the goals of the project and how the project was to be administered. Despite numerous attempts to address collaborative issues by partners, the project was dominated by the lead agency, and partnering organizations indicated dissatisfaction with their agency's level of input in planning and implementation. This lack of interagency collaboration and cooperation threatens to undermine the future of the project.