Jolin, A., Feyerherm, W., Fountain, R., & Friedman, S. (1998). Beyond arrest: The Portland, Oregon domestic violence experiment. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Individuals, Focused, Reactive; Very Rigorous; Effective
What police practice or strategy was examined?
The Domestic Violence Reduction Unit (DVRU) was created as a special police unit to focus exclusively on misdemeanor domestic crimes in Portland, OR. The unit had two goals: to increase the sanctions for batterers and to empower victims. Implementation of the first goal required thorough investigation of misdemeanor domestic violence cases in order to facilitate prosecution and conviction of batterers regardless of victims’ participation. Implementation of the empowerment goal involved validating the victim’s experience and providing her with information about, and access to, community and criminal justice system services.
How was the intervention evaluated?
Domestic violence incidents were included in the study if they involved misdemeanor crimes between intimate partners when the male assailant was arrested at the scene. For each eligible case, a computer program generated a random five-digit number. The last digit signified whether the case was to be classified as treatment or control. Treatment cases were then made available to DVRU officers and control cases were set apart for the duration of the study and received standard processing. Outcome measurements include reported subsequent victimization as well as official police records regarding subsequent violence.
What were the key findings?
Significantly fewer of the treatment group victims, when compared to the control group victims, told interviewers that they had experienced further violence (including verbal violence) during the six months following the arrest of the batterer. When examining police records, however, researchers found the women in the treatment group called the police to report further episodes of violence significantly more often during the six-month follow-up period than did women in the control group.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
It is probable that victim empowerment is responsible for the differing results based on data source. Victims empowered by the intervention were more likely to report subsequent domestic violence to police.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?